Saint John's is one of the first facilities in Indiana providing a new laser-assisted method of cataract surgery. The two physicians who currently provide this surgical procedure at Saint John's are Drs. Donald Perez and Ching Li, both board certified ophthalmologists on the hospital’s medical staff. This new cataract surgery uses a state-of-the-art computer-guided laser system called LenSx. The laser replaces traditional hand-held blade cataract surgery. It makes cataract surgery more precise, with a potentially more predictable outcome. LenSx is the first femtosecond laser approved by the FDA for use in cataract surgery in the United States. A cataract is a natural clouding of the eye’s lens and is the leading cause of blindness among adults. Cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens and inserts a transparent artificial implant. “The laser’s precision cannot be matched,” Dr. Perez said. “The laser’s ability to make the incision through multiple planes creates an opening that is usually water-tight once the surgery is complete and an opening that is more likely to not require stitches.” While all human eyes share the same basic anatomical structure, no two eyes are exactly the same. This is why every eye must be carefully measured and mapped before undergoing cataract surgery. During surgery, the LenSx provides a high-resolution imaging, which allows surgeons to map the placement of incisions. Therefore, the procedure is customized to the individual to remove the cataract and position the implant. Dr. Li explained, “The LenSx laser helps soften the cloudy lens, which is removed through a tiny incision. This decreases the ultrasound power needed for cataract removal and puts the patient’s eye under less stress. This makes cataract surgery a gentler procedure than ever before. Early reports have shown the use of the laser may reduce swelling and speed recovery time.” Through careful measurements before and during the surgery, the ophthalmologist can use a specialized lens that often achieves the same optical correction as glasses or contact lenses. In many cases, the LenSx laser also can be used to make precise shaving on the cornea that will change the cornea’s shape and correct for astigmatism. “The laser is helpful in the precise placement of the artificial implants,” said Dr. Li. “Ideally, our patients would prefer not having to wear glasses after cataract surgery. We cannot guarantee that this surgery will eliminate the need for glasses, but it has achieved that for many of our patients.” “This laser technology is creating excitement among ophthalmologists across the country,” Dr. Perez said. “I see merging of cataract and refractive surgery as a paradigm shift in how state-of-the-art cataract surgery will be performed in the next five years.” President Tom VanOsdol said, “We do lots of cataract surgery here. With our aging demographics, we saw this as an opportunity to bring this extremely accurate, edge-cutting technology to patients in our community.” For information about surgeons who are using the LenSx laser, contact the Health Resource Line at 765-642-3301.