In short, laser cataract surgery involves replacing the first three manual steps of the procedure with laser technology. While I once used a steel or diamond blade and forceps to perform these steps, I now use laser technology. (To find out more details about laser cataract surgery, click here).
My personal involvement in laser cataract surgery goes back many years.
I’ve performed cataract surgery from day one of my career as an ophthalmologist, and I’ve seen more of a fundamental shift occur here than with any other procedure in the past 20 years. All of these things converged – the advanced technology of intraocular lenses (IOLs) was making cataract surgery a vision correction, not just a therapeutic procedure; the ability to perform surgery using a small incision, which then allowed us to remove the old lens, put the new lens in and, ultimately, give patients superior optical outcomes.
This was all very exciting for ophthalmologists. And now, 20 years later, along comes another exciting and useful advance in cataract surgery – laser cataract technology. It involves the technology that was fundamental in making LASIK a more accurate process, using the femotosecond laser (which was the original IntraLase). In fact, this femotosecond laser was equally exciting when it came to laser vision correction, because it allowed us to perform LASIK.
Once the femtosecond laser was put into use forLASIK, the R&D team had performed what they set out to do. They said, basically “look, we’ve done all this, how else can we use what we’ve learnt and continue to progress research.”
In 2006, several R&D teams around the world started to develop a laser cataract system, discovering how to apply it to the lens instead of the cornea. I’d previously worked with two of the competing R&D teams, and so I knew them. I was able to talk with them during those early days, and I was very much interested in and involved in how it would develop.
That then led to having a connection with Professor Zolton Nagy, who is based in Budapest, Hungary. Along with Dr Steven Slade in the USA, Professor Nagy was one of the first two ophthalmologists in the world who regularly performed cataract surgery using this technology.
In February of 2011, I travelled to Budapest and performed my first laser cataract procedure, with great success. That made me the third person in the world to perform laser cataract surgery.
I feel fortunate to have been involved so early, however it all flowed from my early interest in the technology, and 25 years of being involved in this area.
For more information on laser cataract surgery, click here.
Dr Lawless gives up update on the progress of laser cataract surgery at Vision Eye Institute in Chatswood.
You can also view a short film as Dr Lawless explains laser cataract surgery.
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