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So You’re Having Cataract Surgery … Are you Using a Laser?

//So You’re Having Cataract Surgery … Are you Using a Laser?

So You’re Having Cataract Surgery … Are you Using a Laser?

Laser Cataract Surgery | St. Louis | Hill Vision Services

Modern cataract surgery continues to steadily improve as far as both results and safety. Arguably, it is the best surgery known to mankind. Our current technique, phaco emulsification, involves the use of ultrasound power to break up the cloudy lens and it is then aspirated through the same tiny incision.

Until recently, despite the assumption by many patients that this has been the case for decades, no laser was used as part of this procedure. This confusion has occurred simply because ophthalmologists have used lasers for over 25 years to treat glaucoma, retinal disorders and so on. More recently, the Excimer laser has been used to perform LASIK, but there had been no technology for laser cataract surgery in St. Louis or anywhere else in the U.S.

Laser Cataract Surgery St. Louis

Presently, several eye surgery manufacturers have brought laser cataract surgery machines to market. These can be used to perform various steps of the surgical procedure. None of these machines is able to be used for the entire procedure. They are used in addition to our standard procedure of phaco emulsification.

Specifically, laser cataract surgery machines are used to perform incisions into the eye, incisions to alter the shape of the eye (reduce astigmatism), and open the lens capsule and sculpt the lens into smaller pieces. Among the various technologies on the market, some may be approved for more uses than others and one may perform a particular step better than the competition.

What does this mean for both surgeons and patients?

Theoretically, using the laser for certain steps of the procedure means greater precision and safety (less ultrasound power used).  To date, however, no one has demonstrated improvement in the most important result which is the ability to see in uncorrected fashion. That is, the ability of one to see both in the distance and up close without the aid of either glasses or contacts.

In addition, the issue of cost certainly has to be addressed. As with most new medical machines and procedures, the new technology has a high price tag for which someone has to pay. Currently, this burden is placed on the patient in that payers are not covering the cost and so the extra fees are out-of-pocket to the patient.

The future of laser cataract surgery in St. Louis

To summarize, the addition of the laser to our cataract procedure is both exciting and complicated. I do believe that in the future improvements in both safety and efficacy will be demonstrated to our already amazingly successful procedure. Perhaps, one day insurers may become aware of such results and assist in covering the cost.

As with all major decisions regarding your medical care, communication with the doctor is imperative as this issue is certain to change rapidly over the next several months to years. Stay tuned!

Interested in laser-assisted cataract surgery in St. Louis? Visit Hill Vision Services at any of our three locations.

By | 2021-05-19T12:18:20-06:00 March 18th, 2013|Categories: Cataract Surgery|2 Comments

About the Author:

Dr Gregory A Hill, MD
Dr. Hill is a board-certified ophthalmologist in practice since 1992. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons and the St. Louis Ophthalmological Society. Dr. Hill founded Hill Vision Services in July, 2007


  1. Avatar
    Yvon June 26, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing, and I always assumed, I guess like many others that cataract surgery was also performed by laser for years now. I personally hope that I never have to get any eye surgery, the idea just freaks me out a little. Though I hear most laser surgeries are all but painless, and using sound waves doesn’t seem like it would hurt. Do you have to use anesthesia at all for these procedures?

  2. Avatar
    John Bucciachio November 24, 2016 at 1:59 am

    Thank you for this post, I am just done with spectacles because I got dark circles under my eyes…but now think I got a permanent solution.

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