What is laser cataract surgery?

Over the last several years laser cataract surgery has become an increasingly popular choice for patients in need of cataract surgery. Its increased levels of safety and accuracy over standard cataract surgery have been well documented, and the advantages of the procedure are readily seen.

The laser, known as a femtosecond laser, takes the place of handheld surgical scalpels and offers unmatched levels of accuracy and predictability. Tower Clock Eye Center features the LenSx laser, the first FDA-approved laser designed exclusively for cataract surgery. This laser has been credited with over 400,000 cataract procedures worldwide and is seen as the industry standard for its reproducibility, accuracy and reliability.

In laser cataract surgery, the laser increases the accuracy of the surgeon in four components of surgery:

1. Corneal incision

2. Anterior capsulotomy

3. Lens/cataract fragmentation

4. Astigmatism correction


Corneal incision

Before surgery your surgeon will make a detailed 3-D topography of the eye’s surface, called optical coherence tomography (OCT). Here the surgeon learns where, how deep and how long of an incision should be made with the laser. This information allows the instrument to make an incision superior to even the most experienced surgeon. Once properly mapped out, the laser-guided incision is made to allow access to the eye’s interior. At the end of surgery, a laser-guided corneal incision is also more likely to seal, which reduces the chance of infection and need for sutures.

Anterior capsulotomy

The anatomy of the eye incudes a capsule that surrounds the eye’s lens. The front of this thin, transparent capsule is removed during cataract surgery (called anterior capsulotomy) to allow access to the clouded lens. It is imperative to maintain the integrity of the remainder of the lens capsule during surgery because this structure will hold the new artificial lens, or IOL, in place. In laser cataract surgery, the laser is used to perform the anterior capsulotomy. Research has shown that laser-assisted capsulotomies are more accurate and reproducible than traditional surgery.

Lens and cataract fragmentation

Once the surgeon has access to the cataract, the laser is again used to soften the pieces of the lens to facilitate removal. The laser makes the pieces of the cataract softer, smaller and easier to remove with less energy.

Astigmatism correction

Those facing cataract surgery also have the option to have their reliance on glasses reduced or eliminated during laser cataract surgery. After the IOL is implanted, astigmatism can be corrected with the help of the laser by making small incisions in the cornea. The placement of these incisions requires great accuracy, and the laser scans allow for a high degree of precision. As these incisions heal, the shape of the cornea is changed from being somewhat irregular to a rounder, more perfect shape.

This procedure is known as astigmatic keratotomy or limbal relaxing incisions. It can be performed using a diamond-bladed scalpel, but in laser cataract surgery, OCT images are used to more accurately plan the incisions location, depth and length. This greatly increases the procedure’s accuracy, which results in clearer vision.

It is important to remember that traditional cataract surgery is safe and effective, and patients who choose this procedure should feel confident in their choice. However, laser cataract surgery offers the added benefits of a more accurate incision, capsulotomy and astigmatic correction, which may lead to reduced dependence on glasses.


To learn more…


Tower Clock Eye Center recently offered a laser cataract surgery seminar. You can watch Dr. Kurt Schwiesow’s presentation here. To make an appointment with us, call 920 499-3102.


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