Cataract surgery is by far the most common surgical procedure we deal with at Mountain View Optometry. 2.5 Million Canadians have cataracts and this number is rapidly rising. This condition is so common that our Calgary eye surgeons typically have a waiting list of up to several months. The procedure is very safe, with only 1-2% of patients experiencing complications.
When we diagnose a cataract and recommend surgery, our patients have been surprised to hear that lasers are not usually used to remove it. That is starting to change, however. The Femtosecond laser has been used in laser corrective surgery for nearsightedness, and is now starting to be used for cataracts as well.
Three procedures that have been done manually by cataract surgeons are now starting to be done with lasers:
First – the small incision that the surgeon makes in the cornea, can now be done with lasers
Second – the complex removal of a thin, circular amount of tissue overtop the cataract (the capsule) can be done with a greater degree of precision by lasers
Third – since the cataract is a dense, hard material it needs to be softened, broken down and removed without damaging the surrounding tissue. The process of fragmenting the cataract is now starting to be done with lasers.
Remember this is a relatively new procedure and we are only seeing limited numbers of people having them done. Preliminary results have been great so far, with increased accuracy and precision. We expect to eventually see the majority of cataract surgeries being done with lasers in the not-too-distant future.