At some point in our lives, nearly all of us will need to have cataract surgery. It’s a common outpatient procedure that the board-certified ophthalmologists at Carolinas Centers for Sight, P.C. can complete in a matter of minutes in our state-of-the-art surgery facility, Florence Surgery and Laser Center. Just as with many other medical advancements, cataract surgery technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the years and, depending on your testing results, one method may be more appropriate than another to provide you with an optimal visual outcome.
Now patients have a choice between bladed cataract surgery and the advanced technology of bladeless laser cataract surgery. Bladed cataract surgery uses scalpels and other bladed instruments and is typically referred to as the traditional method, while the other is a bladeless option that instead uses a femtosecond laser to perform critical steps of the surgery.
Traditional or Bladed Cataract Surgery
Until a few years ago, bladed cataract surgery was the only method used to remove cloudy cataracts. First, a small scalpel cuts a tiny opening in the outside corner of the eye. From there, a tiny probe emitting sound waves is inserted to break up the cloudy cataract adhering to the eye’s natural lens. After these cataract fragments are suctioned out, a new artificial lens (called an intraocular lens implant, or IOL) is inserted.
For decades, patients experienced satisfaction with the bladed method, as it is relatively quick, easy, and virtually painless. Patients’ vision was dramatically improved with this bladed option. Further, most insurance companies will cover the cost of a bladed cataract procedure with the insertion of a standard monofocal (single-focus) lens implant.
Laser Cataract Surgery
Today, a more advanced version of cataract surgery can be performed using a femtosecond laser rather than a blade. While some aspects remain the same, the biggest difference between bladed and bladeless laser cataract surgery is the initial step of creating an incision. The femtosecond laser makes this incision and then the laser breaks apart the cataract by separating it into small pieces that are suctioned out. Carolinas Centers for Sight, P.C. is the only ophthalmology practice in South Carolina with the complete suite of Alcon femtosecond laser cataract equipment.
So why would someone choose bladeless laser cataract surgery over the bladed method? The benefits are numerous, including more precise incisions with less inflammation and trauma to the eye, better lens positioning, more predictable results and quicker visual rehabilitation. Patients with complex astigmatism are also better served by using a femtosecond laser system.
Above all else, by utilizing a more technologically advanced method of surgery, patients receive a truly customized result. While the extended depth of focus (EDOF) lens implants used in laser cataract surgery are among the most advanced lens implants available today, these lenses are not covered by insurance. However, you may save money over time because the accumulated cost of prescription glasses, bifocals and contacts may be less than the premium EDOF lenses.
In either case, bladed or laser surgery, you will get the gift of dramatically enhanced vision.