What are cataracts?
Cataracts are a relatively common eye condition that usually affect elderly populations. Cataracts are a clouding of the intraocular lens progressively over time. A large percentage of the population is affected but this eye condition is not necessarily life threatening. Cataracts do, however, cause major life complications if not treated. As they worsen with age, they can prohibit an individual from accomplishing daily activities like reading, driving and socializing.
What is laser cataract surgery?
To remedy cataracts, cataract surgery is often necessary because cataracts don’t clear up on their own. Fortunately, advancements in cataract surgery have been made in recent decades. Laser cataract surgery harnesses the power of technology to provide an outpatient, cataract procedure that many men and women undergo each year with no complications.
Also known as Refractive Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (ReLACS), this advanced procedure removes clouded lens from the eye and replaces it with a prescription, focused lens. When compared to other forms of cataract surgery performed with hand tools, ReLACS offers increased precision.
How does laser cataract surgery work?
Laser cataract surgery follows the below steps:
- Surgical Plan. Your cataract surgeon should review a surgical plan with you prior to any operation. Cataract patients may receive the operation at a surgery center or in the ophthalmology office.
- Corneal Incision. Laser cataract surgery first starts with a small incision made by a femtosecond laser into the cornea. This incision is based upon a previous scan made with optical coherence tomography (OCT) which allows the eye surgeon to access the lens with extreme precision.
- Phacoemulsification. This stage of ReLACS uses ultrasound vibrations delivered at extremely high frequencies in order to slowly soften and break up the stiff cataract. Once the cataract is soft and in pieces, the eye doctor can suction out pieces of the clouded lens easily.
- Capsulotomy. The capsule within the eye holds onto the eye lens and needs to be accessed in order to replace it with a new, focused lens. The femtosecond laser allows the surgeon to remove the front section of the capsule while leaving the rest intact.
- Replacement. Replacement of the cataract-covered lens is the final step. Your cataract surgeon will place a lens implant in the capsule. If the patient previously relied on glasses, a multifocal lens may be utilized for astigmatism correction.
While this is an outpatient procedure, it still is an advanced operation. Anesthesia is administered and the patient needs to find reliable transportation to and from the procedure.
Some risk factors for laser cataract surgery may include:
- Secondary cataract formation some time after surgery.
Start by maintaining good eye health while you’re young. Schedule routine eye exams with an ophthalmologist in Orlando whom you trust. Building a medical history with the same eye doctor can help him or her identify eye issues as you age.
Laser cataract surgery is precise and requires a skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate opthamologist. Work with a doctor you trust to minimize the risk factors associated with this eye surgery.
Who is eligible for Laser Cataract Surgery?
Not everyone is a candidate for laser cataract surgery and some need to pursue more traditional avenues to secure relief from cataracts. Some patients with previously existing eye diseases or who have undergone surgeries before may not be candidates for laser cataract surgery. These include:
- Patients who underwent glaucoma surgery.
- Patients who have excess scar tissue in the eye.
- Patients who underwent corneal surgery.
- Patients who experience irregular functioning of the pupil.
Additionally, many insurance health plans don’t cover laser cataract surgery. Prior to seeking this type of cataract surgery, check with your insurance provider to see how much cataract surgery costs.
What are the benefits of Laser Cataract Surgery?
If cataracts currently inhibit your vision, then you will reap enormous benefits from any cataract surgery. Both the traditional method of cataract removal and this newer technology-based method have been time-tested. Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery uses the newest technology and can help those with astigmatism receive relief while helping him or her be less reliant on glasses, post surgery. Both types of surgery are extremely safe and effective. Work with your eye doctor and insurance company to determine which is best for you.
The key pros of laser cataract surgery are:
- Precise. Traditional surgery relies on diamond tipped scalpels and the steady hands of your eye surgeon. While most eye doctors are extremely adept at performing this surgery, a laser offers a greater ability to make precise incisions. Since there is less room for error, the risk factors and recovery time decrease.
- Quick. When compared to traditional, manual cataract operations, there is much less time and less energy that goes into the process of cataract removal. Because the laser implements ultrasound vibrations to break up and soften the cataract, the eye surgeon is able to get in and out more quickly. This shortens the time a patient needs to be under anesthesia and minimizes the risk of retinal detachment and bleeding.
- Dynamic. Laser surgery doesn’t just remove the cloudy lens. It can replace the cloudy lens with a focused one, allowing you to be free from glasses or contacts. By installing a multi-focal premium lens in your eye during cataract surgery, you’re getting to reap the benefits of both LASIK and ReLACS.
How Laser Cataract Surgery Provides Relief
Cataracts are common and affect over 50% of individuals 80 and older. If cloudy vision is prohibiting you from enjoying life and staying independent, it may be time to consider cataract surgery. UCF Health’s patient portal allows patients to gain easy access to their health records, online scheduling and COVID-19 resources for patients. We put our patients’ needs before our own to ensure a higher quality of life for our community.