Laser-Assisted Surgery Treats Cataracts With Precision

Colors don’t seem quite as bright. Your vision begins to look fuzzy. It’s hard to read signs when driving at night. If this sounds familiar, you may have a cataract, a common condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy.

For Barbara Barkley, 70, of Napoleon, the cataract in her right eye did more than blur her vision.

“I was having headaches from the strain when I was trying to read,” Barkley said. “My eyes would get tired and achy.”

Barkley’s optometrist referred her to ophthalmologist Philip O’Donnell, MD, to have it removed.

Dr. O’Donnell discussed her treatment options – conventional surgery or femtosecond laser-assisted surgery.

“They show you a video of the comparison of the old way and the laser and the laser is more precise,” said Barkley. “If you’re messing with your eyes, you want the best treatment you can get.”

Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. During the conventional method, the surgeon makes all the incisions manually. With laser-assisted surgery, the surgeon uses the laser to soften the cloudy lens making it easier to remove. It makes a precise circular opening to access and the remove the cataract, which helps the surgeon place the new artificial lens where it needs to be. It can also be used to correct astigmatism and decrease the need for glasses.

“The people who have this surgery won’t need glasses for distance,” said Dr. O’Donnell. “If they get a special lens, then they won’t need glasses for reading either.”

Cataract surgery usually takes less than 30 minutes with the laser portion taking a few minutes. Most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of the technology so the laser portion of the surgery is an out-of-pocket expense for patients.

“The day of surgery and the next day, we want you to limit bending and lifting and we don’t want you to rub your eye,” said Dr. O’Donnell. “You can use your eye but it will be blurry the day of surgery. Patients use eye drops to help it heal. With laser surgery, recovery is quicker than the conventional surgery.”

Barkley went home and relaxed the rest of the day.

“I feel great,” said Barkley. “It’s amazing. The colors are brighter. I can see the leaves on the trees very clearly.”

Learn more about cataract surgery by calling Dr. O’Donnell’s office at 419-782-6588.