Is Laser Cataract Surgery Safer Than Traditional?

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For millions of Americans, cataracts are a normal part of the aging process. While they’re common, treating cataracts often requires surgery. Traditionally, cataract surgery has been performed with small, handheld instruments, like scalpels and probes. But medical advancements now allow for most cataract surgeries to be performed with the assistance of lasers. Laser cataract surgery has many benefits, and the team at Kirk Eye Center can help Chicago area residents determine the best course of treatment for their cataracts. Visit our River Forest or Gurnee, IL locations for an exam by our team of vision care professionals.

What are cataracts?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that about 39 million Americans have cataracts, which is clouding of the eye’s lens. This creates an effect similar to looking through a cloudy window. Cataracts are commonly associated with aging, and they develop slowly as a person grows older. About two in three Americans over the age of 80 have cataracts, according to the NIH.

If they’re left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness, as they continue to grow on the lens, obscuring vision and causing it to become increasingly blurry, dim, and faded. Considering that a majority of people over 80 have cataracts, chances are if you live that long, you will probably develop cataracts. That said, genetics, lifestyle, and medical issues like diabetes and hypertension can all impact the likelihood of developing cataracts.

While age is the cause of most cataracts, it’s also possible to develop them after eye surgery, steroid use, injury to the eye, and exposure to UV light.

How can cataracts be treated?

While it’s not possible to remove cataracts with a vision prescription, for many people, it’s possible to improve their vision enough that daily tasks are not difficult with minor cataracts. But the slowly developing cloudiness will often grow severe enough to require surgery. The team at Kirk Eye Center can help River Forest and Gurnee, IL residents determine when it’s time to consider surgery.

In general, we recommend surgery for people who aren’t able to continue normal activities, like driving or reading, as well as for people with certain health conditions that can speed up the development of cataracts, such as diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure.

Laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery

Cataract surgery removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial one that becomes a permanent part of the eye. In traditional cataract surgery, each step is done by hand using instruments like scalpels and probes, and incisions are closed with stitches. But laser-assisted cataract surgery uses computer software to create a detailed picture of the eye, while a femtosecond laser does most of the other work. No stitches are necessary, as the laser-aided incision is self-healing.

Is laser cataract surgery safer than traditional?

Traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery are both safe, complications are rare, and both methods produce clear vision with little discomfort. But there are higher risk levels associated with traditional cataract surgery.

Laser surgery eliminates most manual manipulation as the cataract is removed, which means that incisions are more accurate. No matter how gifted the surgeon, they simply can’t compete with machines for accuracy. Clinical studies have shown that lasers are associated with a ten-fold increase in accuracy over handheld instruments. Laser cataract surgery also lowers the risk of complications, and most patients require less recovery time afterward.

While both types of surgeries are safe, for many patients, laser cataract surgery overall may be slightly safer for these reasons.

Schedule a consultation today

There’s no reason to live with cloudy vision that impacts your quality of life. Cataract surgery is one of the most common types of surgical procedures performed in the U.S. and across the globe. Chicago area residents can contact Kirk Eye Center at our River Forest and Gurnee, IL locations to schedule a consultation today. Our team of vision care professionals can help you determine whether laser cataract surgery is the best option for you or your loved one.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.