New Laser Surgery Helps Patients See Clearly

Mike Musiker had been diagnosed with cataracts in both of his eyes, and it was affecting his vision.

So the 80-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., turned to a new surgical procedure for help.

“I was saying to my golfing friends, ‘Where’d the ball go?’” Musiker said. “The depth, I couldn’t see that far. Driving at night, (I’d) get a halo effect. I would say to my wife, ‘Maybe you should drive at night.’”

Cataracts affect more than 20 million Americans. The condition is expected to rise – by the year 2020 to more than 30 million, as baby boomers age.

“A cataract is a clouding of a person’s natural lens inside their eye, and when the lens becomes cloudy, the window into the eye becomes cloudy, and the patient loses vision,” said Dr. Eric Donnenfeld of Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island.

“When the cataract becomes large, the patient can’t do the things they want to do,” Donnenfeld said. “If cataracts are untreated, you can almost lose all of your vision. But the good news is once you have them removed, your vision comes back, so it's not an irreversible loss of vision, it can be treated with cataract surgery.”

Usually, opthamologists cut into the patient’s eye with a blade and remove the lens with an ultrasound device.

But now, doctors prefer to use a laser.

“We're doing laser cataract surgery, and it's like seeing the future today,” Donnenfeld said. “Laser cataract surgery involves using a special device called a femtosecond laser that makes the incision into the eye, (which) opens up the lens. It then divides the lens into small quadrants. It takes care of the major steps of cataract surgery that were before performed manually and are now performed with the precision of a laser.”

Patients can expect a quicker recovery time, Donnenfeld said, and using a laser is more accurate.

Musiker had the laser procedure performed in July – and he said he is seeing better than ever.

“At this point today, I'm 20/20 in both eyes,” Musiker said. “No glasses. My vision is excellent. I feel much more confident, more at ease. Particularly the driving. There's no glare.”