Laser Cataract Surgery - Is it in Our Future?
Cataract surgery has traditionally been performed using small instruments and computer-controlled ultrasound called phacoemulsfication. A cataract is a clouding of the natural crystalline lens of the eye. When cataract surgery is indicated, Dr. Jeffrey Martin creates a small incision in the eye with a preformed blade. A small circle is made in the capsule of the lens using small instruments and then the lens is emulsified and removed using phaco.
There is a new laser that is currently under investigation that could potentially revolutionize cataract surgery as we know it. Dr. Martin, who is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at SUNY Stony Brook, says that there are three companies developing technology that could potentially make a corneal incision, the opening in the capsule of the lens, and pre-chop the cataract before the surgeon does anything. The benefit of this is that the laser could provide better precision and safety. If the steps are done with the accuracy of a laser in cataract cases, there would be less chance of mishaps during each stage of surgery.
Although it sounds like all positives, the skills that make cataract surgery possible are important to learn and surgeons that are not skilled in using a laser could cause presents other complications. Additionally, the cost of the laser and integrating it into routine cataract surgery procedure could be daunting for some physicians. Dr. Martin also realizes that there is a wide range of talent among cataract surgeons and those that are very successful now might not be particularly motivated to change what is not broken.
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