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CHICAGO, IL, June 03, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The femtosecond laser has helped decrease the complications of making a LASIK flap, and now several companies are using this technology to bring added safety to cataract surgery.
Cataract extraction is the most common surgical procedure performed in the United States, and new technology has made it much more successful than it was just a generation ago. The femtosecond laser can perform several parts of the surgery with great precision.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved the femtosecond laser offered by LenSx Lasers, Inc. for two parts of cataract surgery:
(a) making the openings in the eye through the cornea; and
(b) making the opening in the lens called a capsulotomy. Potential uses of the femtolaser would be in breaking up the lens itself and in reducing astigmatism.
Greater Speed and Precision
Dr. Mark Golden, a well known Chicago LASIK surgeon experienced with several femtosecond platforms, says, "The great beauty of the femtosecond laser is its incredible precision. It will soon be possible to take a picture of a patient's eye, plan cataract surgery on the computer, and engage the laser to the eye to perform much of the surgery."
He goes on, "This will allow for a higher level of precision in the ability to implant premium intraocular lenses, and it will decrease the need for spectacles postoperatively because of its ability to eliminate corneal astigmatism. Additionally, it will help us with the most difficult cataract procedures as we will be able to remove hard lenses from the eye with much less trauma."
Dr. Golden goes on to say, "Anything that can be done to decrease surgical time in the eye itself has to be of benefit, as more time in the eye directly correlates with the potential for more iatrogenic damage (caused by physician activity)."
Uncertainty as to Medicare
In addition to LenSx, both LensAR and OptiMedica have femtosecond platforms in clinical testing. Besides the cost of these systems, the biggest problem will be the added time needed to set the patient up to the laser and then to the operating table. That could increase the cost of surgery in these days of declining reimbursement despite increased need for cataract surgery as the population ages.
More than a million cataract surgeries are already performed in the United States each year. If the cost of each surgery were to increase by only a few hundred dollars, this could add up to an enormous drain on our already strained Medicare budget.
Considering the great success of cataract surgery as it is now performed, the question remains as to whether the femtosecond laser will be used as a new cataract surgery tool. It promises even greater vision surgery success with increased safety, but we must wait and see how the future of laser eye surgery develops.
To learn more about cataract surgery, please visit the website of Dr. Golden in Chicago, Illinois at www.doctorsforvisualfreedom.com.
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