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What is laser eye surgery for cataracts?

A:

Quick Answer

Laser surgery for cataracts is the application of lasers by an ophthalmologist to treat clouding of the lens of the eye. Laser cataract surgery is typically an outpatient procedure requiring a brief at-home recovery period.

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Full Answer

Lasers, which use an intensely focused beam of light, have lowered the risks associated with traditional cataract surgery.

In preparation, the patient may be asked to stop smoking and stop taking any medications, such as aspirin, that thin the blood and might interfere with healing. The surgeon precisely maps the patient's eye using a technology called optical coherence tomography, which creates a three-dimensional image of the eye. This helps guide the femtolaser, which is a type of laser that emits rapid pulses that last less than a femtosecond, a tiny fraction of a second.

The surgeon uses medicinal drops to dilate the pupil and numb the eye. He secures the eye in a ring and uses the femtolaser to remove the front of the capsule, a clear membrane that surrounds the lens. It's important that the capsulotomy be done accurately, as the capsule supports the new intraocular lens.

The laser is used to soften and break up the cataract so that it can be easily removed. A permanent, intraocular lens is then inserted.

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