Laser cataract surgery offers great results, quick healing

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- It is one of the most common surgeries out there, and considered one of the safest. But some doctors say that doesn’t mean cataract surgery can't be improved. And they are using a laser to help.

“I wanted to play softball, I wanted to join a team. And the first time I was out there didn't do very well at all,” remembers cataract patient Glen Navis.

But, Navis’ softball game was not suffering from a lack of skill, but a lack of sight. He could not keep his eye on the ball.

“It would get five feet away from me it would just disappear," he remembers.

It is something Sandra Honn could relate to., since she is an avid painter. “I couldn't get the colors right,” she says. “Nothing ever looked right, so I was getting very frustrated.”

Both originally thought maybe they needed new eyeglasses, but Navis says it turned out to be something else.

“And they said, well, you have cataracts. And I said how bad can they be? And he said well you can still drive. “

Honn had the same diagnosis from her eye doctor. Both patients ended up at the Arizona Eye Institute and Cosmetic Laser Center.

Laser being a key word, says Dr. Emilio Justo, “With this femtosecond laser, there are only a couple hundred of them in the United States. So, it is still a very new technology," he says.

Because he is active and did not want a lot of downtime, Navis liked the idea of laser cataract surgery.
And so did Honn, since he had a trip to Alaska planned, “So I wanted to get them out before I went to Alaska because there is a lot of distance to see in that area," he says.

Dr. Justo is one of the few doctors doing it here. He says the quick, easy healing is due to the precision of the cut the laser makes for doctors to access the cataract.

“It is a three-plane incision. It goes down into the cornea, across and down again. By making that tri-beveled, it self-seals;does not require any stitches," he says.

Navis says it put him back in the game much more quickly than he expected, “So I was only out, I think, I only missed three games of softball.”

And it got Honn off on her trip right away, “I had it done on a Monday, went to work Wednesday and the next Wednesday I left for Alaska.”

And Dr. Justo says it is not just easier for patients to heal, he believes it is safer, “In doing it by the laser,  in my opinion, makes it much more reproducible, and accurate and with that reproducibility in my opinion comes an increased safety factor.”

The laser actually suctions to the eye during surgery. according to Dr. Justo. “And that way in case  the patient slightly moves their eye, that device stays with it.“

Honn says while that sounds like it would be painful, it really was not, “I didn't even notice what happened. Walked out of here, ok, you have some ointment in your eye."

The laser also is also able to accurately cut through the center of the cataract, says Dr. Justo. "Once the implant is put in, the new lens, it makes it for better quality vision because it is better centered."

The lens Navis put had put in to replace the old one also helped correct his astigmatism, and he says that has put him back in the game.

"My last game I had five fielding chances and no errors, and i had three hits," he says.

Honn had a multi-focal lens put in, and says it has given new clarity to her art as well, “I am setting up a studio in my house; I can get back into it," she says.

Insurance will cover cataract surgery, but, most do not cover the laser surgery. If you would like more information, you can visit, http://www.azeyeinstitute.com  or call 623-975-2020.