What's new in Cataract Surgery? Frank R. Burns MDCataract surgery is one of the most common outpatient procedures performed in the United States with over 3 million procedures performed annually. Cataract surgery involves the removal of the natural lens of the eye which has become clouded followed by replacement with an artificial lens implant known as an intraocular lens or IOL.  Patients typically develop cataracts as part of the aging process, thus most patients have cataract surgery after the age of 60.  Other causes of cataracts include trauma, medications and certain systemic diseases such as poorly controlled diabetes.  Family history also plays a role. In addition, smoking increases the likelihood of cataract formation.

Cataract surgery is highly successful today given current modern equipment and techniques. In fact, many patients can enjoy significantly improved vision with little to no dependence on glasses or contacts after surgery.  One of the newest developments over the last few years is the use of a laser to assist with cataract surgery.  Over the past three years, I have personally used a laser, the Catalys®, to assist with my cataract surgeries.  This laser creates the initial incisions in the eye with the precision that the human hand is unable to achieve.  These precise incisions allow the surgeon to reduce or eliminate astigmatism which is an inherited condition causing the front surface of the eye, the cornea, to be shaped more like a football than a basketball.  By reducing or eliminating astigmatism, the patient will be much less dependent on glasses or contacts following surgery.

This laser also assists in the positioning and centering of the IOL. This is extremely important with many of the newer premium IOLs currently available. An IOL known as a Toric lens is used to correct higher amounts of astigmatism and positioning of this lens on the correct axis greatly increases the chances of successful surgery.  The second type of premium lens implant is called a multifocal IOL which corrects both distance and near vision.  This type of lens implant has been available for many years, but the quality of this lens has improved significantly over the last several years.  The multifocal IOL that I have been using is called a Restor® lens. The company that makes this lens has recently redesigned the lens to improve the quality of distance vision.  Many patients complained of halos around lights at night along with “smudged” vision with previous multifocal IOLs.  While the newer Restor® lens does not totally eliminate the perception of halos, I have noted a significant improvement in patient’s quality of vision using this lens.  Most patients are able to see well without glasses or contacts for the majority of their daily activities following cataract surgery with the Restor® lens.

It is exciting as an ophthalmologist to offer my patients the newest technologies to improve their vision and achieve spectacle independence with cataract surgery. It has been astonishing to witness the evolution and improvement of modern cataract surgery over the 30 years that I have been in practice.  It has been my pleasure to serve the Louisville community and I look forward to the coming years to provide even more advanced eye care.