Laser Cataract Surgery FAQs

Most of the patients considering laser cataract surgery at our Oklahoma City center have several questions about the procedure. Those questions usually involve wanting to know about the safety of the surgery, the options involved, and what to expect after having cataract surgery.

On this page, we address some of the most common questions asked by our patients.

Questions About Surgery

What is a cataract?

A cataract occurs when the eye’s lens, which is usually clear, gets progressively cloudy. We normally have a clear view because when light passes through a clear lens, the light can focus to a point. Cataracts distort light, creating a blurred view. Your vision with a cataract may look fuzzy, and colors might be muted. Because this condition gradually gets worse, you may not consider treatment until cataracts limit your daily activities. Most people develop cataracts sometime after the age of 50.

Depending on your pre-operative vision and desired visual result, your doctor may recommend a tailored treatment plan that could include creating ultra-precise laser incisions in the cornea and a specific lens implant type. This tailored treatment may reduce your need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery.

Can you tell me more about laser-assisted cataract surgery?

Traditional cataract surgery involves using handheld instruments to remove the cataract and replace it with a clear artificial lens. Laser cataract surgery replaces many key steps traditionally performed with handheld instruments, which may result in increased accuracy and safety.

What are the benefits of laser-assisted cataract surgery?

  • A technologically advanced procedure using 3D imaging
  • A treatment with potentially little or no discomfort
  • A more precise treatment
  • Gentler and easier cataract removal
  • More personalized treatment that may reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery.

Laser cataract surgery replaces many key steps traditionally performed with hand held instruments, which may result in increased accuracy and safety.

Is laser cataract surgery safe?

Even though traditional cataract surgery is considered safe, it does require the doctor to use a hand-held blade to make incisions in the cornea. Cataract surgery using a femtosecond laser offers precision and safety that traditional surgery can’t match. Cataract removal using the laser softens the cataract so it can be removed more gently with less energy.

Am I a suitable candidate for laser-assisted cataract surgery?

Most cataract patients are candidates for laser cataract surgery. During your consultation, it is important to discuss your treatment options and visual expectations after cataract surgery with your doctor.

What is a femtosecond cataract laser?

The femtosecond cataract laser performs crucial aspects of the cataract procedure. It is a specialized device that uses advanced technology to precisely deliver its gentle energy. Femtosecond refers to the laser’s pulse duration, which is equivalent to one-millionth of one-billionth of a second. This ultrafast speed, along with the advanced guidance and imaging that the laser platform uses during the procedure, is precise, predictable and reproducible.

How does the femtosecond cataract laser work?

The laser performs the most challenging steps of traditional or manual cataract surgery. Historically, a cataract procedure involved creating small incisions made manually with a blade. Using sophisticated 3D imaging, the laser will create safe and precise incisions.

The laser aids the surgeon in performing:

  • Anterior capsulotomy—A capsulotomy is the opening in the clear, cellophane-like capsule that wraps the natural lens of the eye.
  • Lens fragmentation—Softening and breaking up of the cataract, which allows for easier removal.
  • Corneal incisions—Allows insertion of the instruments and the replacement lens.

Why does nJoy Vision use the femtosecond cataract laser?

Today, cataract surgery is refractive surgery. nJoy Vision is dedicated to offering patients and providers with access to the most advanced and safest technology available. The use of the femtosecond laser to assist in the crucial steps in cataract surgery offers a safe procedure and excellent visual outcomes.

Will laser-assisted cataract surgery be covered by my insurance?

According to the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), cataract removal and the insertion of a conventional implant will be covered regardless of whether the procedure is performed using the femtosecond cataract laser or conventional surgery. However, physicians will be allowed to charge for vision-correcting services when implanting a lens that corrects presbyopia or astigmatism, and/or using numerous technologies to aid in vision correction options.

What’s the recovery time for laser cataract surgery?

Patients typically notice their vision has improved immediately after the surgery, but it’s normal for vision to remain blurry for a day or 2, as the eye is still dilated. There are few restrictions for patients’ recovery after laser cataract surgery, but it is important to avoid lifting heavy objects or engage in strenuous exercise for one week.

Will standard (manual) cataract surgery be obsolete in the future?

The laser-assisted cataract procedure will still require some manual aspects, including removal of the cataract and insertion of the implant.

What if I have already had LASIK, RK, or another eye surgery?

Even if you have had another eye surgery such as LASIK, you may still be a good candidate for laser cataract surgery.

Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery?

Today, cataract surgeons can provide you options to REDUCE your dependence on glasses or contact lenses, but not completely eliminate their use. Depending on the freedom you desire, technology is available to allow you to perform most daily activities without corrective lenses. The most common circumstances where corrective lenses were required after surgery are night driving, reading in low-light situations, and reading very fine print.

Are there any side effects with laser cataract surgery?

Patients rarely experience serious complications following the procedure, but they do generally find they have an “adjustment” period of about 6 to 12 weeks where they need to learn to see up close again with the new lens. Some common side effects include:

  • Dry eye condition: This typically lasts only about a month, and eye drops are an effective treatment.
  • Redness and swelling: Some patients experience inflammation that lasts one or two weeks. Eye drops again can treat the inflammation and relieve symptoms.
  • Floaters: Many people have floaters even without cataract surgery, but they may become more noticeable because the patient’s vision is clearer. Contact your eye surgeon if floaters don’t go away or obstruct your vision.
  • Light sensitivity: Eyes are often more sensitive to light after cataract surgery because cataracts filter light. The eyes usually take a couple of days to adjust to enhanced vision.

Also, some people report glare or halos around lights, which generally diminish over time. More people state that the ability to see both near and far greatly outweighs any visual side effects they might have.

Most patients are able to perform 70-80% of their daily activities without corrective lenses.

Lens Implant Options FAQ

How are the vision-correcting options with lifestyle lenses or premium lenses different from basic monofocal or standard IOLs?

Monofocal or standard IOLs are fixed focal length implants that allow patients to see good distance vision only. For instance, most patients will see well enough to watch TV or drive without correction but will need corrective lenses to read, use their cell phones, or do any close-up work. Lifestyle or premium IOLs create multiple focal points so patients are able to see well at varied distances and some, such as accommodating IOLs, are engineered to mimic the eye’s natural process of accommodation. The specialty lenses offer patients the opportunity for greater independence from glasses after surgery.

Lifestyle Lenses create multiple focal points so patients are able to see well at varied distances.

How do I know if I am a candidate?

If you have been diagnosed with presbyopia and/or cataracts and are in general good health, you may benefit from refractive cataract surgery with premium lenses or lifestyle lenses. It is important that you have a thorough eye exam to determine your eye health and to make sure you have no medical conditions such as uncontrolled glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or advanced macular degeneration. There are many factors to be considered when choosing the right lens for your lifestyle. Together, we can determine which lens implant is right for you.

Lifestyle Lenses offer patients the opportunity for greater independence from glasses after surgery.

Is there an additional cost for these specialty lenses?

Yes, there are additional costs for specialty lenses. Medicare pays the standard cataract benefit, and the patient pays an additional charge for the technology and services used for the vision correction specifically done to reduce dependence on glasses or contacts.

Cataract surgery designed to correct vision requires the surgeon to use more technology before, during and after surgery. Removing the cataract to allow vision to be clear with glasses is a covered service. The choice to decrease dependence on glasses and contacts is considered elective. The additional fee for vision correction during cataract surgery may include additional pre- and intra-operative testing, a lifestyle lens and an extended care component that covers post-operative office visits for up to twelve months.

Choosing to have vision correction to reduce the dependence on glasses or contacts is and an upgrade from the standard monofocal cataract procedure.

What is the difference between accommodating and multifocal lens implants?

All presbyopic or bifocal lenses are designed to create multiple focal points at varying distances to help reduce a patient’s dependence on corrective lenses. During the consultation process, your doctors will take the time to address your specific visual needs and lifestyle to make the right lens recommendation for you.

If you’ve been looking in the Oklahoma City area for a laser cataract surgery specialist, you can request a consultation at nJoy Vision by calling our office at (405) 842-6060 to discuss your options with one of our specialists.

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