Which Is Better For Cataract Surgery Laser Or Traditional?

Sep 6, 2023

Cataract surgery is one of the safest, most performed procedures in the world. For decades, cataract surgery could only be performed one way. This traditional method was done by hand, and it is still the most popular cataract surgery technique today. Thanks to technological advancements in ophthalmology, in 2010, the FDA approved the second method of operation, laser-assisted cataract surgery. Since then, many patients have wondered which form of cataract surgery provides the best results. Read on to learn more about traditional vs. laser cataract surgery. 

What is cataract surgery?

Cataracts develop when proteins in the eye’s naturally clear lens begin to opacify, preventing light from easily passing through the eye. Cataracts develop over the course of many years, and they may occur in one eye or both. Different types of cataracts have different symptoms, timelines, and causes, but they all have the same treatment: cataract surgery. 

During cataract surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the cornea to remove the clouded natural lens. The surgeon replaces the natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens, called an IOL. IOLs can improve multifocal astigmatism, hyperopia, presbyopia, and myopia. Premium IOLs have allowed many cataract surgery patients to reduce their reliance on glasses, with some no longer needing prescription eyewear at all.

Why do people need cataract surgery?

Cataracts prevent light from passing through the eye, which can cause sensitivity to glare and bright lights, difficulty seeing at night, spotty or blurry vision, and less colorful vision among other symptoms. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness. Surgery is the only treatment for cataracts.

Impaired vision is an inconvenience that can become a threat to personal safety as it progresses. Fortunately, cataract surgery can restore vision and improve eye health. In the United States, cataract surgery is widely accessible. If you are suffering from cataract symptoms, surgery with experts like Dr. Beran and Dr. Weber can dramatically improve your quality of life.

What happens during traditional cataract surgery?

Traditional cataract surgery, called phacoemulsification, involves a micro-incisional technique performed entirely by hand. The surgeon makes a small corneal incision with a scalpel and creates an opening in the capsule where the lens sits. To remove the cataract, the surgeon uses a small instrument to break up the clouded lens and suction it out. Then, an IOL is implanted in place of your natural lens. The surgery takes about 10 minutes per eye and usually requires no stitches—plus, most patients can see well a few days after surgery. 

What happens during laser cataract surgery?

Laser cataract surgery, also called femtosecond cataract surgery, involves the same strategy as the traditional method, but with different tools. In laser-assisted cataract surgery, the surgeon uses a laser to make the initial incision in the cornea and capsule. Laser energy is used to soften the cataract. Then, the patient is moved to an operating room where the softened lens is extracted from the eye and replaced with an IOL. Like traditional cataract surgery, this method is quick, comfortable, and usually requires no stitches.

Which type of cataract surgery is better?

Laser-assisted cataract surgery and traditional cataract surgery are similar in many ways. In both surgeries, your eye is numbed and you are sedated so that the procedure itself is painless.

There is not necessarily one cataract surgery method that is better for eye health. An expert surgeon will have the resources to give you the best possible care, regardless of technique. In most cases, the decision between traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery comes down to personal preference. However, in some cases, unique health reasons may make one procedure more desirable than the other.

Is a laser more precise?

Laser-assisted cataract surgery and traditional cataract surgery offer the exact same results in terms of visual acuity and rates of complications, which are very rare. Skilled surgeons can perform cataract surgery with great precision with a laser or by hand.

The single largest factor in determining the outcome of your cataract surgery is the skill of the surgeon performing it. Choosing an experienced, reputable surgeon to perform your cataract surgery will offer you the best results, regardless of the technique used. 

Which surgery is more common?

Traditional cataract surgery is more common than laser cataract surgery. Cost is a major reason why laser-assisted surgery is performed less frequently. Insurance usually covers traditional cataract surgery, but most insurances do not cover the additional costs of laser surgery.

Which method is right for me?

Remember, the most important factor in the outcome of your cataract surgery is your surgeon. For the average patient, there is no difference in safety or effectiveness between the two procedures. Thorough, in-person examinations and tests are necessary for our doctors to select the best treatment plan for your eyes. For more information about cataract surgery options, call our eye experts at (614) 939-1600. 

Get the vision you deserve

No matter which technique is used, cataract surgery is an incredibly low-risk, effective eye procedure that can dramatically improve your quality of life. Live the life you deserve with clearer vision—schedule an appointment with Columbus Laser & Cataract Center today.