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How Does Laser Cataract Surgery Work?

by Damion Wasylow 30 June 2016 17:59 PM

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Laser-assisted cataract surgery is a delicate procedure that should only be performed by a specially trained and highly experienced ophthalmologist using state-of-the-art equipment. Understanding the steps involved can make you more comfortable leading up to the procedure and allow you to explain the recovery process to loved ones.

Step 1: Consultation

You will have a comprehensive eye exam including specialized cataract diagnosis. Your ophthalmologist will evaluate the progression of your cataract symptoms and recommend surgery if necessary at this stage. All cataracts eventually require surgery to correct.

Step 2: Surgery Preparation

When you arrive at the eye surgery center, you will be greeted by friendly staff, and asked to complete some basic paperwork. You are then brought to the surgical prep area where you will change into a surgical gown and then rest briefly in a hospital bed. The doctor will come in to greet you and answer any remaining questions. Surgery center staff will then apply sensors to monitor your well being during the surgery.

Step 3: Moving into the Surgical Suite

You will be taken to the surgical suite in your hospital bed. The surgeon, nurses and assistants will be waiting, dressed in scrubs, surgical gowns, caps and masks. Nurses will then administer local anesthesia. Laser cataract surgery only requires local anesthesia, so you will be awake throughout the brief procedure. Most laser cataract surgeries take just 10-15 minutes. 

Step 4: Mapping the Eye

The surgeon will move the laser-assisted cataract system’s camera into place above your eyes. It feeds detailed images and video of your eye lens to a specialized computer to precisely map the surfaces and allow the surgeon to identify the ideal location for the incision.

Step 5: Cataract Lens Removal

The surgeon will use the laser to make a tiny incision in the eye surface. He will then insert a small probe that uses ultrasonic energy (sound waves) to break up the cataract-damaged lens into small pieces. That probe is then removed and a second probe moved into position to suction out the lens pieces. This process is completely pain-free. 

Step 6: Artificial Lens Placement

Your new intraocular lens implant will be pre-loaded into another small probe. The artificial lens is rolled up inside the tip of the probe, making it slender enough to insert through the original incision. The surgeon then unrolls the lens and carefully positions it for optimal vision. This too, is pain-free. The incision used for laser cataract surgery is so small that it does not require stitches to close. A protective shield will be placed over the eye to block out excess light and allow your eye time to adjust.

Step 7: On-site Recovery

Following your surgery, you will be taken into the recovery room at the eye surgery center. There, nurses will make you comfortable while your eyes quickly adjust to the new lens. Your family can visit with you during this time. Many patients report improved vision while still in the recovery room. Once you feel ready, typically after just 30-60 minutes, you’re released to go home. You will need someone to drive you. You will be provided a pair of sunglasses to wear on the ride home.

Step 8: At-home Recovery

You may choose to rest for a few hours when you arrive home. Your surgeon will likely suggest you keep the shield on continually for several hours. You can later take it off, but it should be put back in place during sleep for the next several days. You may experience cloudy or blurred vision at first, and potentially some redness. These are normal short-term side effects. Each patient heals differently. Some see clearly almost immediately. Others require a week or two. 

Step 9: Follow-up Visit

Most surgeons will ask you to come into the office for a follow-up visit the day after surgery. The doctor will examine your eye to ensure there are no complications and that you’re healing normally.

Dr. Gregory Snodgrass has performed more than 20,000 successful cataract surgeries, and was the first local surgeon to use the LenSx laser cataract surgical system. If you or a loved one is suffering from cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today to schedule a consultation.

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