The lens in our eye is normally clear to allow the light coming from an image to pass through. When the lens become cloudy during the development of a cataract, vision loss occurs. While it is more common in the elderly, young people can also develop cataracts due to a variety of reasons. Patients with a cataract often have symptoms such as blurred vision, glare, halos, fading of colors and frequent eyeglass prescription changes.
Cataracts are treated surgically by replacing the abnormal lens with a new lens implant. In the United States, over 1.5 million people undergo cataract surgery each year. Cataract surgery is generally very successful as more than 95% of these surgeries occur without serious complications.
Round Rock Eye Consultants now offers laser-assisted cataract surgery in addition to traditional cataract surgery. The laser provides more predictability and precision. In general, we do the surgery under local anesthesia using only drops and no injection. The duration of the operation is brief. Only a small incision is needed to insert a foldable lens implant. In general, the incision seals without needing a suture. With very little trauma, the return of vision is often quite rapid as is the return to normal daily activities. Your doctor will ask you to complete a course of medicated eye drops, which will aid in the recovery and prevent complications.
When the cloudy natural lens is removed during the cataract procedure, it is replaced with a clear artificial lens. That lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). Your ophthalmologist measures your eye before surgery to set the proper focusing power for your IOL. There are a number of options when choosing an IOL, including astigmatism correcting IOLs (toric) and multifocal (bifocal) IOLs. These options help to reduce the need for glasses after surgery.
Although cataract surgery is generally extremely safe and successful, complications can sometimes occur and a perfect result cannot be guaranteed. A visit with our doctors can tell you whether a cataract or some other problem is the cause of your visual difficulties. We can help you decide if cataract surgery is appropriate for you and which type of procedure and lens implant is best suited for you.
Traditional vs. Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery — Which Is Right For You?
Because cataracts are becoming more and more common as the population in the U.S. ages, as we are living longer lives, cataract surgeries are becoming increasingly necessary. Thankfully, if cataracts are interfering with your life, you have options when it comes to treating cataracts: traditional cataract surgery or cataract surgery that is laser-assisted.
While laser-assisted cataract surgery may appeal to certain patients due to the fact that it does not rely on a scalpel to open an incision in the way traditional cataract surgeries do, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to have an assessment by a trained specialist with both the expertise as well as the modern technology to safely perform determine whether traditional cataract surgeries or laser-assisted cataract surgeries best meet your needs.
How They Compare
Both forms of cataract surgery go about the process to remove the lens of your eye and, in most cases replace it in roughly the same way: an incision is made near the side of the lens, and the original lens is broken down and removed from the eye before the artificial replacement is inserted. The biggest difference between the procedures is in the technology used to accomplish this goal.
Both forms of cataract surgery are rather quick to heal, and while some patients can take up to a week or two for their vision to fully return post-surgery, many will have their vision restored almost directly after the procedure. The incisions made during cataract surgeries are made in such a way that they will cause minimal discomfort to the patient and should heal on their own without the need for sutures of any kind.
Both procedures also rely on a trained and experienced ophthalmologist to keep the patient comfortable during the procedure and lessen the risk of infection or other complications. Round Rock Eye Consultant’s own award-winning ophthalmologist Dr. Joseph Meyer is highly qualified and experienced in both forms of cataract surgery, and he is dedicated to ensuring that you can walk away post-surgery feeling confident in the result.
How They Contrast
Traditional Cataract Surgery
In principle, traditional cataract surgeries are fairly straightforward. The ophthalmologist uses a scalpel to open a small incision where specialized tools utilizing ultrasonic frequencies are inserted in order to break up and vacuum out the old clouded lens. An artificial lens is then inserted into this incision, and it is either sealed or closed so that it heals on its own. It is a well-established procedure that has very little associated risk. Because artificial lenses cannot cloud up the same way that natural ones do, it is a surgery that will likely not need any surgical follow-up, barring any complications that may occur. Of those complications, infection is the most common and the easiest to prevent and treat if proper post-surgical care is given to the eye.
The biggest advantage that traditional cataract operations have over their laser-assisted counterparts is that traditional cataract surgeries are typically fully covered by the patient’s health insurance whereas laser-assisted cataract surgeries are often only partially covered, or not covered at all. Depending on the severity of your cataract and any other conditions that would make ordinary cataract surgeries more difficult or extensive, such as astigmatisms that require specialized lenses, the price may be impacted to the point where traditional cataract surgeries are the preferred option for a patient.
The goal of Round Rock Eye Consultant is to provide patient-first care means that traditional cataract operations will always be an option available to those who are not comfortable with laser-assisted surgeries. Traditional cataract surgery is a well-established and incredibly safe procedure. Dr. Meyer is perfectly equipped and prepared to handle traditional cataract surgeries, and has two decades of experience under his belt to prove it.
Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery
Laser-assisted cataract surgeries are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional bladed cataract surgeries because of their ability to quickly, accurately, and almost completely painlessly replace cataract-ridden lenses. In addition, various studies have shown that it is safe and may actually be a better option for many patients than traditional cataract surgery.
Laser-assisted cataract surgery uses femtosecond lasers to open an incision that is smaller and more precise than one created by a scalpel. Placement of the artificial lens can be more easily controlled, and the laser can help make the lens substantially easier to break down and suction out before the artificial lens is set in place. Laser-assisted surgeries are useful, especially if the patient requires special lenses to correct for astigmatism or bifocal lenses where the precise placement of the lens is paramount.
The reason this procedure is recommended for patients with more serious cataracts is that lenses which have hardened and thickened as the cataracts have worsened can be more difficult to properly break apart and remove during traditional cataract surgeries. Laser-assisted cataract surgeries utilize the laser to help break apart these cataracts and make their removal more efficient.
Another advantage of laser-assisted cataract surgeries is that they can often address problems that coexist alongside cataracts more quickly and easily than traditional surgeries are able to. While toric lenses implanted via traditional cataract surgeries can help correct astigmatism, laser-assisted cataract surgeries can correct them without the need for specialized equipment by making small incisions near the corneas. These incisions, called Limbic Relaxing Incisions (or LRIs), help to relax the cornea to allow corneal malformations to correct themselves. While ophthalmologists can technically make these incisions with their scalpels during traditional cataract surgeries, the laser can do so much more accurately and efficiently than attempting to do so by hand, which means better end results for the patient!
Still Not Sure Which One is Right For You?
If you find that you are still on the fence about which procedure is the best fit for you or a loved one, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment so we can walk you through your options. Our patient-centered focus helps us to make sure that you will walk away feeling like you have been heard, and we have helped you find the procedure that will be what is best for you.
Round Rock Eye Consultants is proud to have offered professional eye care services in the Round Rock, TX area for over two decades, and we urge you to contact us today if you are in need of one of the highest-rated doctors in the Greater Austin area.