Laser vs Non-Laser Cataract Surgery: 3 reasons why it beats traditional methods

Thinking about laser cataract surgery? Wondering where to look for advice on what’s available? Read on for an overview of the difference between latest techniques and traditional methods.

What does the laser actually do?

Laser cataract surgery involves the use of a very fast laser – or femtosecond laser – to replace a number of steps that were traditionally performed manually by the surgeon.

One of the critical stages of this procedure is the capsulotomy – the creation of a circular access hatch in the front of your lens capsule, so that the underlying cloudy lens material can be removed. For the best outcome, this access needs to be as round and centred as possible. The laser ensures this is the case every time.

While many surgeons are experts at manually tearing away a circle of tissue from the front of the lens, few could claim to do it perfectly every time. But the laser can.

One of the other things the laser does is to soften the cataract, making it much easier – and faster – to remove from the capsule in your eye.

One thing’s for sure – the laser doesn’t do the job for you. You still need an expert, experienced surgeon behind the wheel to operate this precision tool and to manage any unexpected events as they occur.

What’s in it for me?

There are a number of key advantages of this technique over older methods:


Shorter surgery time means less energy is released around the entrance wound and within the eye.

What does this mean? Better vision during recovery, for one thing, as the eye recovers faster. And a healthier cornea. Cataract surgery is known to compromise the important layer of cells that line the back of the cornea. Less energy means less damage to this essential layer of your cornea.1 This has implications for your quality of vision long term.

And shorter surgery means less time under sedation – another advantage of femtosecond cataract over traditional methods. The less time you spend under the effects of anaesthetic, the quicker you recover and the safer the procedure.

2. SAFER – Lower risk of complications

While this procedure is likely to be the safest surgery you will ever have, it is not without risk. Serious complications are rare, but do happen. Choosing a surgeon who has the experience and expertise to deal with such complications is one of the best ways to minimise your risk.

Retinal detachment is a rare but serious complication of this procedure. The less trauma the eye undergoes during surgery, the less likelihood of damage to the delicate but critical structures of your eye. 2

3. BETTER – Greater independence from glasses

One of the standout features of laser cataract is that it allows for a perfectly round, centred access to your crystalline lens. This means that the intraocular lens (IOL) can be perfectly centred in this pocket within your eye. This allows for the accurate placement of premium IOLs such as trifocals or torics (which correct astigmatism) in your eye, leading to excellent uncorrected vision after surgery.

What provides best patient satisfaction after surgery? The answer is, freedom from glasses. And this is more likely with the use of the femtosecond laser with one retrospective study finding more than twice as many patients achieved 20/20 vision (or close) at one-month after laser cataract surgery compared to traditional surgery. 3

Is laser more expensive?

Yes. Femto-cataract surgery costs a bit more. A femtosecond laser is a considerable investment for any practice and is not widely available. Traditional methods are still practiced in most hospitals and day surgeries. But we believe that, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Looking for the most technologically advanced cataract surgery? Call 1800 25 20 20 and make an appointment with Dr David Robinson today. There’s no substitute for experience.


1. Conrad-Hengerer I, Juburi MA, Schultz T, et al. Corneal endothelial cell loss and corneal thickness in conventional compared with femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery: Three-month follow-up. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2013 Sep;39(9):1307-13.
2. Nagy ZZ, Takács A, Filkorn T, et al. Complications of femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery. J Cataract Refract Surgery. 2014 Jan;40(1):20-8.
3. Kránitz K, Takacs A, Miháltz K, et al. Femtosecond laser capsulotomy and manual continuous curvilinear capsulorhexis parameters and their effects on intraocular lens centration. J Refract Surg. 2011 Aug;27(8):558-63.

How to Protect Our Eyes from the Sun

In contradiction to popular belief sunglasses were not invented as a fashion accessory; they were created to protect our eyes from the dangerous effects of ultraviolet sunrays. The same way that over exposure to sunlight damages the layers of our skin causing wrinkles, sunspots and cancers, sunlight can cause permanent and irreversible damage to our eyes.

Shades in the Shade

Wearing sunglasses on a daily basis, even when it is cloudy is vital in preventing permanent eye damage. UV rays can be even more powerful on cloudy days. The sunrays get trapped under the clouds and continually bounce back and forth off the thickest densest clouds, causing intensified light reflections. This is why you might catch yourself squinting on overcast days and getting sunburn.


Cataracts are one of the biggest causes of blindness worldwide. More than 20 million people around the around are estimated to have blindness due to untreated cataracts. Fortunately there are several methods of treatment that successfully remove the cataract and fully restore healthy vision. Studies have shown that more than 10% of cataract cases are directly linked to overexposure of UV rays.

Prevent Wrinkled Eyelids and Skin Cancers

The skin that makes up both our upper and lower eyelids is extremely thin. This skin is therefore more susceptible to sun damage. Most of us do not apply sunscreen to our eyelids leaving them completely vulnerable to the harsh Australian sun. If you don’t wear sunglasses or a hat when you are in the sun you dramatically increase your chances of developing deep wrinkles around the eye. Not only do you increase your chances of ageing badly but also you make this thin and fragile skin more susceptible to developing skin cancer. Some of the most common skin cancers that grow in the eyelids include; basal cell carcinomas, melanomas and squamos cell carcinomas. Early detection of skin cancers on the eyelids is very important in lowering undesired aesthetic damage during treatment.

Which Shades?

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to sunglasses in Australia. Wether you prefer to wear your shades as a fashion statement, to hide tired eyes on the bus in the morning, have prescription sunglasses or transition lenses the most important thing is to check the UV protection level of the lens.

For us in Australia we do not need to do too much research when buying a new pair. All sunglasses sold in Australia have to comply with legal UV protection standards. For the strongest level of protection look for ‘category 4’ on the label. Other available levels of UV protection in Australia include just category 2 and 3. Each category will absorb up to 95% of UV rays instead of your precious eyes and eyelids.

It is also important to pick a pair of sunglasses that sufficiently cover the eyes and sit closely to the face avoiding sunrays getting through the gaps. A frame that follows the curvature of the head like many sports sunglasses are ideal for eye protection.