Laser Cataract Eye Surgery in Toronto
What are cataracts and what are the symptoms?
If your vision is getting cloudy, if you are losing your colour perception, if you are having trouble reading or with your night vision, you may be experiencing the early stages of cataracts. When we’re younger, the natural lens inside the eye is normally transparent. As we age, our clear lenses inevitably become cloudy. This is what’s known as a cataract.
Cataracts are a normal part of aging. There is no medical treatment to reverse or prevent them. Once they form, the only way to see clearly again is to have them removed and replaced with an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens. In general, when you are bothered by your vision during your daily activities, it is time to think about cataract surgery. Cataracts will typically not damage the eye while growing, so there is no need to rush into surgery. You can decide when the time is right for you. Although it is surgery, the risks with modern cataract surgery are very low. You should not be anxious or afraid of the procedure. Laser cataract surgery has taken this surgery a step ahead, improving both the surgical precision and outcomes. In addition, exciting advances in intraocular lenses now provide a variety of options as to how you choose to see after surgery.
How does laser cataract surgery work?
In February 2012, the Bochner Eye Institute became the first eye care centre in Canada to offer laser cataract surgery with the Catalyst precision laser system, considered to be the most significant advancement in cataract surgery in more than 50 years. Steps that used to be performed with hand-held instruments are now completed using a sophisticated femtosecond laser. This includes making the corneal incision and fragmentation of the clouded lens or cataract. The laser procedure is guided by an imaging system with higher resolution than an MRI, customizing the entire procedure to the unique optical characteristics of each patient. In fact, surgeons the world over believe that laser cataract surgery will eventually replace traditional blade surgery completely.
What are the advantages of laser vs. traditional cataract surgery?Because of the increased precision, laser cataract surgeries offer better self-sealing incisions, more accurate reduction of astigmatism and the potential for better quality night vision and clearer vision sooner after the procedure.
In this video, Dr. Raymond Stein explains the cause of cataracts and the surgical process for removal using either traditional or with laser cataract surgery. He also reviews the options available in terms of replacement lenses.
As the first eye surgeon in Canada to offer laser cataract surgery, Dr. Raymond Stein has an unparalleled understanding of the procedure. In this video, Dr. Stein describes the surgical procedure and the Catalys femtosecond laser that he uses in detail.
Laser Cataract Surgery FAQs
Does the cataract have to be “ripe” for surgery to be performed?With advances in cataract surgery, it is no longer necessary for the cataract to be mature or “ripe”. An early cataract that interferes with the quality of vision can be corrected with surgery.
How safe is cataract surgery?Cataract surgery is one of the most successful operations on the body. With a skilled surgeon using advanced technology patients usually have an excellent outcome. There are over 15 million cataract operations performed worldwide each year.
Is the surgery painful?No, in fact most patients are very comfortable during the procedure. There are no needles or sutures. The eye can be frozen with the simple application of anesthetic eye drops. Patients will notice a bright light from the microscope and a slight irritation but usually no discomfort.
Why does OHIP not cover Laser Cataract Surgery?Laser cataract surgery represents new advanced technology but is not considered medically necessary. It is difficult for our health-care system to continue to pay for all innovations even if they offer an improvement in clinical outcomes.
Do I require an implant at the time of cataract surgery?Yes, all patients have an implant of a specific power. After the cataract is removed it is essential to have an implant, otherwise “coke-bottle” or extremely thick glasses are required in almost all patients. The lens or cataract normally helps to focus light on to the back of the eye for vision. An implant will help to focus light and obviate the need for thick glasses.
Are there different types of implants?Yes, there are a number of different types of implants. The main classifications of implants are standard, aspheric, toric, and bifocal. The standard implant is provided by the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP). This is a monofocal implant that can provide satisfactory vision but usually requires the aid of glasses to fine tune sight. The other implants are not provided by OHIP but can be purchased by the patient. These include:
- An aspheric implant can provide better quality of vision by reducing spherical aberration. This can reduce glare and usually provides better night vision. The aspheric implant is combined with an astigmatism reduction or control procedure to decrease the need for distance glasses by small incisions in the peripheral cornea.
- A toric implant, in addition to reducing spherical aberration and enhancing the quality of vision, can reduce astigmatism, and is the best choice in patients with higher degrees of astigmatism. The astigmatism correction of a toric implant is actually built directly into the implant and then rotated to a specific orientation in the eye.
- A bifocal implant is a multifocal implant that can provide both distance and near without glasses. There may be some glare and/or halos with this type of implant. These symptoms tend to diminish with time.