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Laser Cataract Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions

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According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 24.4 million Americans over 40 have cataracts. Additionally, around one-half of American over 75 are living with cataracts. When cataracts begin to greatly impede an individual's ability to work or enjoy their typical quality of life, their doctor might recommend laser cataract surgery.

Here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions about laser cataract surgery.

How Is Laser Cataract Surgery Different From Traditional Cataract Surgery?

The goal of laser cataract and traditional cataract surgery is the same: break up the cataract and insert a replacement lens. Traditional cataract surgery involves making a small incision with a blade, which is typically so small that it doesn't require any stitches, as the eye tissue will repair itself. A laser surgery involves the use of a laser rather than a blade.

There are several benefits of laser cataract surgery over traditional cataract surgery. For example, because lasers are more focused than surgical scalpels, there is less damage because incisions are smaller. Lasers are typically used when the cataracts are more severe, which often makes it more difficult to create an incision.

Because there is less damage with lasers, recovery time is frequently shorter with laser surgery as well.

What Are the Basics of Laser Cataract Surgery?

Whether you have a laser cataract surgery or a traditional cataract surgery, the procedure will begin with an exam. However, unlike a traditional surgery, a laser cataract surgery involves mapping the eye. The mapping allows the surgeon to find the optimal spot to make the incision with the laser. Next, the surgeon will use an ultrasound to carefully soften the cataract.

The doctor then breaks up the cataract before removing all the pieces. A replacement lens is then placed into the eye, which helps improve the clarity of your vision.

What Is the Recovery Like From Laser Cataract Surgery?

After surgery, you may experience some blurred vision or discomfort. Luckily, this usually resolves itself within hours of the laser cataract procedure. Once you are home, take it easy until your vision is better. It is important to avoid driving yourself home, lifting heavy objects, bending over, or straining your eyes until your doctor gives you the okay.

Depending on the complexity of your surgery, you might be able to start watching your favorite television program or checking emails within a few hours or the following day after the procedure.

For many patients living with cataract, the precision of laser cataract surgery is the best option.