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Dr. Stewart: 'Laser Cataract Surgery Can be Safer, More Precise'

  • Category: General, Surgery
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  • Written By: Boulder Community Health
Dr. Stewart: 'Laser Cataract Surgery Can be Safer, More Precise'
Aging-related cataracts affect virtually everyone at some point. In fact, by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

“As we age, the lens in the eye that allows us to focus light starts to cloud, causing decreased vision,” BCH ophthalmologist Richard Stewart, MD, MSPH, with Insight Vision Group explained to an audience of nearly 175 people during a free health lecture held on June 18 in Boulder.

"When a cataract makes it significantly hard to see and begins to interfere with quality of life, it can be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens implant, or IOL," Dr. Stewart said.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the U.S. It also is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery.

Dr. Stewart said, “Most people who have cataract surgery experience better vision afterwards. The surgery is quick, often taking less than 20 minutes, usually painless, performed without admission to the hospital and does not require general anesthesia."

Cataract Symptoms

  • Progressive blurry or cloudy vision
  • Failure to pass driver’s examination
  • Impairment of color vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in dimly lit environments
  • Frequent changes in your existing eyeglass prescription (a need for stronger glasses)
  • Glare, haloes and/or double vision

Laser Cataract Surgery Can Treat Both Cataracts and Other Vision Problems

Dr. Stewart spent time describing laser cataract surgery — one of the latest options for treating cataracts. This recent innovation, when combined with advanced IOLs, can address cataracts in addition to other vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia (age-related vision loss).

Traditionally, surgeons make tiny incisions in the cornea with a handheld scalpel to remove the hazy lens. In laser cataract surgery, surgeons use a laser beam to make those micro incisions.

"In some patients, this blade-free technology allows for the removal of a cataract with greater precision, accuracy, and safety than in traditional cataract surgery," Dr Stewart explained. "With more accurate incision creation, cataract disassembly, and IOL positioning, there is a potential for reduced inflammation and recovery time, as well as increased accuracy of visual correction."

If you have astigmatism, your surgeon might recommend also using the laser to create astigmatism-correcting corneal incisions during the cataract procedure.

Optimized Cataract Removal Can Potentially Eliminate the Need for Glasses

Laser cataract surgery involves the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) to capture high-resolution images of the inside of your eyes. With this information, the surgeon develops a customized procedure plan — tailored to your eye's unique anatomy — and maps the size, depth and location of each laser incision. Your surgeon then guides the laser to create micro incisions based on your customized plan.

The laser also uses OCT for computerized video imaging, which provides images of your eye’s anatomy during the entire procedure, adding more precision to the cataract removal process and potentially reducing the risk of intraoperative complications.

Dr. Stewart said, "By customizing the surgery to your eye's anatomy and implanting an advanced IOL, laser cataract surgery can result in improved postoperative vision and offers the potential for the reduction of eyeglass dependence.”

Watch this video to learn more about laser cataract surgery.

Richard Stewart, MD, MSPH, has more than 10 years experience in successfully treating cataracts. Appointments are available by calling InSight Vision Group at (303) 402-1000.

Click here to view PowerPoint slides from the lecture on “Latest Advances in Treating Cataracts.”

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