Cataract surgery is a very safe method of improving vision loss due to cataracts. It is an outpatient procedure done in under local sedation in a sterile operating room with a very short recovery and quick return to normal activities.
Cataract surgery has evolved significantly over the years. Some of the major advances have included the use of ultrasound to break up the cataract and remove it through a small incision, a process called phacoemulsification, instead of making a large incision to remove the whole cataract, which required sutures to close. Other major developments have included foldable intraocular lenses, and intraocular lenses which can correct astigmatism and reduce the need for glasses after surgery.
Another innovation is the use of the femtosecond laser to perform parts of the cataract operation, instead of manual instruments. The laser may be used to make the corneal incisions, the opening of the front of the cataract, and to soften the cataract. It can also make incisions into the cornea to reduce astigmatism. The cataract is still removed using the ultrasound method, but the initial steps are more precise and reproducible when done with the laser. While the surgical outcomes of laser assisted cataract surgery and traditional cataract surgery have not been shown to be significantly different, this technique may offer improved outcomes when combined with astigmatism correction, dense cataracts, or premium intraocular lenses.