Health Beat: Femtosecond: Lightning fast laser for cataracts
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 04:50:59 PM CDT
The lens of the eye helps us focus, but as we age, cataracts can develop. More than 22 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts, and that number is expected to rise by 50 percent in the next decade. Now, a new high-tech laser is giving patients a new option to get their sight back.
Reading on her new kindle would have been nearly impossible for Peggy Nardi last year.
“It was difficult. Even with the glasses,” said Nardi, whose cataracts made it tough to see.
"That’s the part that turns cloudy," said Dr. Dennis L. Kilpatrick, medical director at Scottsdale Eye Physicians & Surgeons.
Nardi opted for a new option in cataract surgery that’s being hailed the biggest advancement in 30 years.
"This is a tremendous breakthrough," Kilpatrick said.
Instead of cutting the cataract out with blades, surgeons use the femtosecond laser.
"The machine will make incisions in both the cornea and the lens itself," Kilpatrick explained.
It uses high energy pulses.
"The duration of the pulse is what gives it the name femtosecond. You might have heard of a nanosecond. That’s one-billionth of a second, but a femtosecond is actually one-millionth of a nanosecond," Kilpatrick said.
The bladeless approach improves safety for patients, cuts recovery time, and gives doctors a new level of precision.
"It's something no surgeon, no matter how good they are, can do with their free hand, not as well as the laser," Kilpatrick said.
"Color, color is fantastic," Nardi said.
For her, it means seeing a brighter future with her great-granddaughter.
"I'm happy, happy, happy with it," Nardi said.
Femtosecond laser cataract surgery uses similar technology to Lasik and can also be used to fix astigmatism in cataract patients. It is FDA approved. The doctor said most of his patients feel their vision is much better about two weeks after standard cataract surgery. With the femtosecond laser, it's more like one week.
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