laser assisted cataract surgery

What is Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed of all surgeries in Australia and has a very high success rate. Surgery is the only way to successfully treat cataracts. However, since 2011, a new cataract surgery procedure has been available in Australia. This is widely known as laser-assisted cataract surgery and may be an option if you are faced with getting cataracts removed.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. It most often occurs as part of the aging process and affects over 700,000 Australians. It is one of the most common reasons for having eye surgery. Cataract surgery involves four key steps. Being familiar with these steps helps understand how a laser is used to assist during the procedure.

Cataract Surgery Steps

Step 1: An Incision is made in the cornea

cataract surgery - corneal incision

Traditional Cataract Surgery

To gain access to the natural lens of the eye, a small incision is made in the cornea. This is normally done by the eye surgeon using a hand-held blade. The incision is self-healing meaning it will usually heal after surgery without the need for stitches.

Step 2: Access is created into the lens capsule

Anatomy of the eye

Traditional Cataract Surgery

The natural lens in the eye is held in place by a very thin and delicate capsule. To remove the lens, a hole is needed to be made in the front of this capsule (by a procedure known as an anterior capsulotomy). This is traditionally done manually by the surgeon using a needle and a pair of forceps. This opening needs to be made very delicately without damaging the rest of the lens capsule as this is needed to hold the new artificial lens in place. 

Step 3: Cataract-affected lens is broken up and removed


Traditional Cataract Surgery

To remove the natural lens through the small corneal incision it needs to be broken into small pieces. A vibrating ultrasound device is normally used to break up the cataract clouded lens and remove it using a tiny vacuum. This is known as phacoemulsification. The heat generated by this ultrasound can sometimes burn the cornea causing astigmatism.

Step 4: An artificial lens is inserted into the eye


Traditional Cataract Surgery

The new artificial lens, known as an Intraocular Lens (IOL), is inserted through the corneal incision and positioned precisely inside the lens capsule. A lens calculator test will be performed during your consultation to ensure we have the correct lens to help reduce the need of glasses or contact lenses post-surgery.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery may hold some benefits if you are facing surgery. However traditional cataract surgery is still a highly successful procedure. Your Ophthalmologist is best to recommend if laser-assisted cataract surgery should be considered in your specific case. Also check what aspects of your cataract surgery are covered by your health fund or Medicare. Laser-assisted cataract surgery, being a more expensive procedure, is generally not fully covered.

Envision Eye Centre can offer both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery for its patients. We perform the procedure from end to end in a number of our day surgery facilities. Our highly experienced corneal surgeons are on hand to remove your cataracts giving your vision a new lease of life. However please be aware that if you do decide to proceed with laser –assisted cataract surgery there are out of pockets cost anywhere from $500-$1000 that will not be covered by your health fund. Request your cataract appointment online or call us on (02) 9233 7333.

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