Are Cataracts Removed with a Laser?
By Jeffrey Martin, MD
Published on May 12, 2010
Many patients ask if their cataract surgery will be performed with laser. They think that a laser is the best way to perform any type of eye surgery. Dr. Jeffrey Martin, of North Shore eye care in Smithtown, New York in Long Island, explains that laser is simply focused light and it is very useful in many aspects of eye care. While lasers are not currently used during cataract surgery, there are some exciting new technologies that may surface that include laser for certain parts of a cataract operation.
Today, the gold standard of cataract surgery is phacoemulsification, which is computer controlled ultrasound. With "phaco," ultrasound energy is used to break up the cataract or cloudy crystalline lens of the eye. The phaco handpiece used combines ultrasound, irrigation, and aspiration. Through the cataract procedure, there is a balance of fluid that keeps the eye well formed as surgeons break up the lens.
The lasers that are currently being considered may be capable of creating incisions in the cornea, a circular opening in the lens capsule, and even pre-chopping the cataract, but manual ultrasound removal may still be necessary.
The future looks bright for cataract surgery and that is a good thing since the baby boomers that represent a large segment of the population are now getting to the cataract age group.