A camera lens focuses incoming light into an image on a screen or film reel. The lenses in our eyes work the same way, adjusting the light we see so our brain gets the “picture.” If a camera lens gets smudged or foggy, the image will be out of focus but a quick clean will get it back in working order. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in our eye and usually require surgery to correct. What type of laser removes cataracts?
First, let’s look at the two types of cataract surgery: traditional and laser. In traditional cataract surgery, a surgeon does everything by hand using surgical instruments. The surgeon makes small cuts into the eye, breaks apart and removes the clouded lens and then finally replaces it with an artificial lens. During laser cataract surgery, a trained surgeon guides the laser to do the work from the initial cut to the breaking apart of the clouded lens for removal. The surgeon will use an ultrasound of the eye to guide the laser.
Now, what type of laser removes cataracts? There are several different laser systems that a doctor may use but the answer, no matter the system, is a femtosecond laser. Femtosecond lasers are infrared lasers which emit pulses of light in trillionths of seconds. Because of how fast they operate, femtosecond lasers are incredibly precise without causing damage to the area around an incision. Femtosecond lasers were originally developed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Femtosecond lasers were approved by the FDA for LASIK surgery in 2001 and for cataract surgery in 2015.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the world, with millions of procedures performed every year. While traditional surgery has removed cataracts for many decades, laser cataract surgery is the latest innovation. Laser cataract surgery is more precise, better at removing the damaged lens, and has a faster healing time. Because laser cataract surgery uses a femtosecond laser, doctors can even correct astigmatism during the same procedure! Laser cataract surgery is performed by highly skilled and specially trained surgeons. Talk to your doctor to find out if laser cataract surgery is right for you.