Is Cataract Surgery Done by Laser?
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, globally – including in the UK. Luckily, cataracts can be treated effectively with the help of cataract surgery, which has become one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the world. But how exactly does cataract surgery work? Is it performed with traditional surgical tools? Or is cataract surgery done by laser?
Let’s start by explaining what exactly cataracts are and why they develop.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts develop in the lenses of our eyes which, for most of our lives are as clear as glass, allowing us to make sense of the world around us. However, as cataracts begin to affect the proteins in our eyes lenses, they become cloudy.
These cloudy obstacles often take on a brown or yellow tint which affects the way we see colour, as well as our ability to clearly define objects. The development of cataracts can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as reading, driving and exercising. In more severe cases, cataracts can eventually lead to blindness.
Cataracts are considered a natural part of ageing; however, there are some factors which may accelerate their development. For example, certain existing health conditions, steroid use, and eye injury have all been linked to a higher risk of cataract development.
According to the National Eye Institute, lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and over-exposure to the sun can also put you at higher risk.
- Nuclear sclerotic cataracts
- Cortical cataracts
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts
In the early stages of cataracts, glasses or contact lenses may be effective at reducing the visual impairment experienced. However, in the long term, there is only one solution to getting rid of a cataract: cataract surgery.
Treating Cataracts with Surgery
Cataract surgery involves physically removing the cataract from your eye by replacing your eye’s natural lens with an artificial lens. Now, this may sound scary but as one of the most commonly performed surgeries worldwide, the success rate of cataract surgery is extremely high!
The artificial lens that replaces the natural lens in cataract surgery is known as an intraocular lens, or IOL. An important part of cataract surgery is determining the correct size lens for each patient (as everyone’s eyes are different!). At London Vision Clinic, we offer the complete range of commercially available IOLs, allowing us to ensure a perfect fit for every patient.
So, how is cataract surgery actually performed? And crucially, is cataract surgery done by laser?
Using Laser Technology in Cataract Surgery
Traditionally, cataract surgery – like all refractive surgeries – was performed with the use of blades. This allowed the surgeon to create incisions in the surface of the eye, through which they could reach the lens. Then, they break up the cataract inside the eye and remove it through these incisions. Finally, the new artificial lens is put in place.
Today, cataract surgery may be performed with blades, however, it can also be done using a precision laser. As technology has developed, extreme-precision lasers are becoming increasingly utilised in refractive surgery, including Laser Eye Surgery treatments such as LASEK, LASIK, and ReLEx SMILE.
While cataract surgery is not considered a Laser Eye Surgery treatment (as lasers aren’t used to correct a refractive error), laser technology can be used to create the incisions needed to carry out the removal of the cataract. In Laser Cataract Surgery, 3D imaging may also be employed to create a map of the eye’s surface. This informs the laser of the exact location as well as the size and depth of the required incisions.
At London Vision Clinic, our expert team of surgeons and ophthalmologists are experienced in a wide range of refractive treatments – including cataract surgery. Our specialist cataract surgeons have been hand-picked for their expertise in this area and for their dedication to achieving the best possible results.