Cataracts affect millions of Americans each year, and as the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of fifty, it’s no wonder new advances in cataract surgery are breaking through on a regular basis. The most recent development? Laser technology—the new-and-improved version of the traditional hand-and-knife technique of past decades. With laser surgery comes the benefit of a bladeless procedure and the use of a highly customized eye map for greater accuracy.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is the thickening of the eye’s lens. Overtime, this “clouding” begins to restrict the light flow to the retina, causing eyesight to become blurred and dim, with the visual acuity similar to someone looking through a foggy window. Eventually, if no action is taken, total vision loss will occur. Though this condition is chronic and arguably inevitable, cataract surgery is a safe and effective solution, with a 98% success rate of improved vision in patients.
Traditional Cataract Surgery
Originally, the procedure to remove a cataract involved using a diamond blade to make a small incision in the cornea, the clear outer coating of the eye. The surgeon would then insert a small, ultrasound wave-emitting probe to soften the cataract enough to be suctioned out of the cornea. Once the cataract was cleared, only the thin outer membrane of the cornea—the lens capsule—remained. An intraocular lens (IOL) would be inserted onto the lens capsule, allowing light to once again safely pass through to the retina. (Note: Though laser technology is gaining widespread acceptance, traditional cataract surgery is still a common and modern procedure.)