In January 2020 I had to undergo cataract laser surgery, which, if you have read some of my other pages on laser eye surgery, really terrified me!
While I would never have chosen to put myself through a laser eye operation purely to correct my presbyopia, I had no choice if I wanted to see clearly as the cataract had started to severely affect my vision. Having researched the ins and outs of laser surgery to correct vision - otherwise known as LASIK eye surgery, I had convinced myself that no surgeon was ever going to point a laser at my eye and then use a "blade" to lift my cornea to re-shape my lens.
But cataract surgery using the latest femtosecond laser (instead of the more traditional so-called phacoemulsification method) is quick, painless, involves no blades, just a quick blast with the laser, then ultrasound to remove the cloudy lens before insertion of a new IOL (intraocular lens). The procedure took less than 10 minutes and I now have 20/20 vision in my left eye!
In cataract laser eye surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL) to restore your vision without any bluriness.
There are two types of cataract surgery most commonly used, both of which give excellent results. A high frequency ultra-sound device is used to break up the cloudy lens and the tiny pieces are then sucked out with a tiny implement. This prodedure is called Phacoemulsification or Phaco and does not require a laser.
The second option DOES use a laser, specifically the latest femtosecond lasers. Unlike laser eye surgery to correct short or long-sightedness using either LASIK or PRK where your cornea is reshaped by the laser to correct vision, cataract laser surgery uses the advanced femtosecond laser to first break up the cloudy lens, then ultrasound to remove it.
In either case, the final procedure is for the surgeon to insert a foldable IOL (intraocular lens) to replace the old lens.
New technology always costs more, especially as these machines cost upwards of $350,000 to install, but the results are usually better for patients needing an IOL to correct both vision and astigmatism. It is worth noting that not all patients are suitable for femtosecond cataract laser surgery if they are too old as their lens may have become too hard.
Pupil dilated 12 hours after cataract laser surgery
I'm pleased to report that after the painless, 15 minute procedure, all I had to do was rest up for a few days, making sure to keep the eye clean and free from dust. The cataract surgery recovery time is really very quick. You need to make sure you have someone to drive you home after the operation and take it easy straight afterwards.
My eye did look strange for a while afterwards as it was bloodshot after the trauma of surgery and my pupil stayed dilated for a while as a result of the eye drops used to widen the pupil pre-surgery.
If you an active person like me, you need to take care not to lift any heavy objects, do strenuous exercise or bend forwards (no yoga for a week!) - that was the only restriction really. Exercise can increase pressure in your eye which could affect recovery time, plus you need to prevent water or any other impurities getting into your eye.
I was able to carry on normally otherwise, using my computer, cooking etc. Although I did get my husband to do most other chores!
The cost of cataract laser surgery depends on which type of surgery - phaco or femtosecond laser - and also on the type of IOL used. If you choose a single vision IOL (that in most cases means you still need reading glasses), it's much cheaper than going for a more advanced multifocal IOL, especially if it also corrects astigmatism by means of a TORIC multifocal IOL.
The femtosecond laser option costs a lot more than phacoemulsification as it uses the latest technology. While phaco still gives excellent results, the femtosecond laser allows the surgeon to perform the cataract removal procedure with pinpoint accuracy, allowing better results for patients, especially for someone like me who needed a toric multifocal IOL to correct both presbyopia and my astigmatism.
My surgery in Cyprus cost €3,800 (around 4,200 US $) using the latest LensSX femtosecond laser technology and inserting a specialist toric multifocal IOL. Costs obviously vary on where you have the surgery, but you can expect to pay anything between €2000 and €4500 per eye.