Laser Cataract Surgery FAQ
Some people think that cataract surgery is typically done by laser. This has not been true - until a few years ago. Our practice was one of the first on the East Coast to perform Laser-assisted Cataract Surgery utilizing multiple femto-second laser platforms including OptiMedica's Catalys and Alcon's LenSx.
How is Laser-assisted Cataract Surgery different?
Many of the steps of cataract surgery that are traditionally performed using handheld instruments can now be completed using the precision of a laser.
The treatment is highly customized, more accurate and more gentle. Like a fingerprint, every eye has a unique size and shape. Prior to treatment Catalys and LenSx systems can image your eye and construct precise 3D maps of your anatomy. This enables a tailored treatment plan customized for your eye.
What are the advantages?
- There is more precise correction of astigmatism using laser incisions to relax the cornea ("corneal relaxing incisions") instead of manual incision which are less predictable. This can result in sharper vision.
- The surgery is more gentle with decreased risk of damage to surrounding eye structures. This is especially important for patients who have very dense cataracts, pre-existing corneal problems, or weakness in the support structure of the eye's natural lens.
- The surgery allows for safer procedures in patients with hypermature or white cataracts.
Does the surgery hurt?
You can expect little or no discomfort.
Does insurance cover laser cataract surgery?
No, insurance only covers non-laser cataract surgery. Laser-assisted cataract surgery is not covered because insurance companies will not pay the additional expense of having surgery by laser. In addition, surgeons are not lawfully allowed to bill patients an upcharge for a laser cataract procedure, since insurance companies cover non-laser cataract surgery.
Procedures which are not covered by insurance can be billed outside of insurance as non-covered services. In cataract surgery that typically falls into two categories:
1. Correction of astigmatism: A femto-second laser used to assist in cataract surgery can simultaneously be used to create limbal relaxing incisions to correct astigmatism. If a patient chooses to use the laser for astigmatism correction, they also will then benefit from having the laser perform all of the other functions related to cataract surgery.
2. If you are having a deluxe or premium lens implant placed as part of your cataract surgery, (either for high astigmatism correction or in an attempt to get a glasses-free result from surgery) the cataract surgery can be done with laser as well.