Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed procedure in the world. With the aging baby boomers, it should remain #1 for years to come.
I tell my patients that we all develop cataracts starting around age 50 and that many of us will need or want to have them removed. Thankfully, the science of cataract surgery is ever evolving to newer and safer methods with better visual outcomes. While traditional cataract surgery is still an excellent procedure that is brief (15-20 minutes), generally painless, performed on an outpatient basis with rapid recovery in vision and return to normal activities, the new LenSx Laser Cataract Surgery has finally been approved for use and will become the primary method in the future.
LenSx is similar in its approach and precision to LASIK, a highly effective refractive procedure. The femtosecond laser technology that brought new levels of safety, accuracy and predictability to LASIK is the same LenSx laser cataract technology we now use. In traditional cataract surgery, I use a hand-held metal blade to create incisions that allow access to the cataract. I then create a circular opening in the natural capsule of the cataract followed by breaking up the cataract with an ultrasonic probe. Many patients also receive manual incisions in the cornea to treat astigmatism thus improving their natural vision. With LenSx laser cataract surgery, all of the steps I just mentioned are performed with the laser.
The easiest way to think about LenSx is this: if cataract surgery involves ten steps, the LenSx laser does the first six steps in 25-30 seconds (vs. 7-9 minutes with the traditional method) at a level of precision that cannot be duplicated manually.
Our parents and grandparents had cataract surgery the traditional way and did well. The next generation of cataract patients are technologically savvy, much more interested in being free from glasses after cataract surgery, and have active lifestyles that seek newer procedures with minimal recovery times. While the LenSx laser procedure is an option for all cataract patients, the timing for the availability of LenSx is perfect to meet the demands of the younger, active cataract population.
I am so thankful that we live in an era where the advances in surgical procedures are so incredible. Being involved in ophthalmic research allows me a peek at what’s to come. Doing cataract surgery with a laser has honestly been a dream of mine for many years and sometimes it is still hard to believe that dream has come true.
If you are “50 ish” you need an annual eye exam. If your vision is not what it used to be, you may well have cataracts. So come see us and, if by chance you do wind up needing cataract surgery, together we can explore your options and further discuss this exciting new LenSx laser cataract technology.