Nearly 25 million Americans have cataracts, the top cause of vision loss in the United States. The good news is, cataract surgery can remove cloudy cataracts using time-tested techniques during a simple in-office procedure.
Randa Garrana, MD, and her team offer both traditional cataract surgery and newer laser-assisted techniques to help patients at Advanced Lasik enjoy crisp, clear vision. Here’s how to decide if laser cataract surgery is the better option for you.
A cataract is your eye’s natural lens. When you’re young, this lens is typically clear, allowing light to pass through to the sensitive retina and the optic nerve at the very back of your eye.
As we age, the lens changes, becoming cloudy — so cloudy that light can’t reach the cornea, making it a lot more difficult to see. That cloudiness happens when proteins inside the lens break down as part of the aging process. Cataracts develop slowly, typically causing no noticeable symptoms until vision loss begins.
The effects of untreated cataracts can be debilitating. But fortunately, cataracts can be treated — in fact, cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States, with a long and proven safety profile.
Most cataract surgery is performed using a “traditional” approach. Dr. Garrana uses a surgical blade to make a tiny incision in the capsule that contains your eye’s lens, then inserts a tiny probe to break apart the clouded lens and suction it out.
She inserts an artificial intraocular lens (or IOL) to take the place of your eye’s natural lens. The tiny incision heals on its own, typically without any stitches.
Laser cataract surgery uses the same principles — remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an IOL. But instead of using a manual technique to make the incision and extract the lens, this approach uses a laser and special mapping technology for added precision.
Before the procedure, the laser scans your eye and creates a detailed map of the lens and the capsule. The map aids in incision placement and provides additional information about the lens itself.
During surgery, Dr. Garrana uses the laser to make the incision and to break apart the lens for extraction. The heat of the laser also helps soften the lens to make it easier to extract. Afterward, the incision typically closes on its own without sutures.
Laser cataract surgery does cost more than traditional surgery, and most insurance companies don’t cover that additional cost. However, some insurance companies as well as Medicare will pay the same amount toward your surgery, which means you’ll only need to pay the difference out of pocket.
While traditional cataract surgery yields very good results, there are some instances when the added precision of laser-assisted cataract surgery makes it a better choice.
Some lenses, including lenses used to correct vision issues like astigmatism, require very precise placement in order to provide clear vision after your surgery. Using a laser helps ensure premium lenses are properly placed by optimizing the placement of the capsule incision.
If you have astigmatism, using the laser-assisted approach allows Dr. Garrana to correct your astigmatism at the same time she removes your cataract. Lasers play a critical role in correcting astigmatism because they allow for more precise reshaping of your eye’s cornea.
Removing cataracts can significantly improve your vision and your quality of life. To learn more about the patient-centered cataract care Dr. Garrana provides at her Long Beach, California, practice, call or book a visit online today.