Lately there has been a lot of discussion about “laser cataract surgery”. Cataract surgery is typically performed with an ultrasonic unit called “phacoemulsification:. With this technique, which is the standard around the world, sound waves break up the cataract into little pieces that can be aspirated from the eye. After the cataract, or “cloudy lens”, is removed, an intraocular lens is inserted in the eye so the patient can see.
Now there is new technology which uses a femtosecond laser to perform parts of the cataract surgery. This laser is used to make the initial incision into the cornea. Next the laser is used to perform the opening of the lens capsule, or outer cover, of the lens. Finally the laser is used to make cuts into the lens so the parts can be easily removed from the eye.
The only laser FDA approved for cataract surgery in the US is LenSx made by Alcon. With more than 1.5 million cataract surgeries performed in the United States each year, time will tell if this technology will become the new “standard” for cataract surgery.