Welcome to the cataract surgery center of Slade & Baker Vision Center. If you suffer from cataracts or have lost the ability to see up close, you have come to the right practice. Dr. Slade and Dr. Walton are pioneers in the field of refractive cataract surgery. Our patients not only have the choice to see at all distances after surgery, but they were also the first patients in the United States that could have laser cataract surgery.
Surgery to remove cataracts is one of the most frequently performed procedures today. It is also one of the most successful and safest procedures in medicine today. It is estimated that there are over 14 million lens implant procedures performed each year.
In your parent’s or grandparent’s days, cataract surgery was usually delayed for as long as possible because it was considered risky and required several days in the hospital. Today, cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and the procedure itself only takes a few minutes. The risks are much lower and the recovery is much faster for most patients. Today, patients have their surgeries done earlier. There is no need to wait until the cataracts are “ripe”.
Cataract surgery is elective surgery and that is good news for the patient. There is no need to wait until your vision is very poor. We advise our patients to consider cataract surgery when the cataract begins to affect their lifestyles; close vision, driving, sports, reading, or otherwise. The cataract will typically not damage your eye while it is growing, so there is also no need to rush into the surgery. You can decide when the time is right for you!
Dr. Stephen Slade and Dr. Bennett Walton perform the procedure within our office based operating suite or at our local surgery center, just a few blocks away from our offices. You will arrive about an hour before your actual surgery. You will be given a mild sedative to help you relax. The area around your eye will be cleansed and a sterile drape will be applied around your eye. The surgery only takes a few minutes but plan to spend 2 to 3 hours at the center for the preoperation procedures and recovery.
Dr. Slade and Dr. Walton will use a powerful anesthetic eye drop to completely numb the eye. Using only a topical anesthetic avoids the risks and pain associate with needle injections and provides a much quicker return of vision. There is no need for shots or injections.
A small instrument will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking. In Laser Cataract Surgery, the laser is used to make the opening in the eye, an opening in the lens itself, and to treat the lens. If needed, an ultrasonic instrument will then gently break the cataract into microscopic particles, which are then suctioned away.
Next, the Intraocular Lens (IOL) you chose to correct your vision will be inserted into the same location that your natural lens occupied. Once the IOL is locked into position, the micro-incision seals itself, typically without the need for sutures. It remains tightly closed by the outward pressure within the eye and provides a fast, much more comfortable recovery.
You will be released soon after the procedure to go home and relax for the rest of the day. Your eye will not be patched and most patients are able to see well after surgery.
Visual recovery varies from patient to patient but most patients return to their normal activities within a day or two. If you have cataracts in both eyes, the second procedure will usually be scheduled within a week or two.
Serious complications are extremely rare, but it is surgery and there are some risks involved. One of our counselors will provide you with additional information about the risks associated with cataract surgery. Choosing an experienced surgeon for your procedure can significantly minimize the risks involved with your cataract procedure.
After Cataract Surgery
Most patients are concerned about the cataract surgery recovery process. Our doctors provide the best quality care and thoroughly explain what you can expect after cataract surgery. Recovery from cataract surgery is generally very quick. Most patients obtain better vision within the first 24 hours of the procedure. Itching and mild discomfort are normal after cataract surgery. Some fluid discharge is also common. Your eye may be sensitive to light and touch.
If you have discomfort, your doctor can suggest treatment. After one or two days, any moderate discomfort should disappear. Complete visual recovery varies from patient to patient but most patients return to their everyday activities within a day or two. If you have cataracts in both eyes, the second procedure will most likely be scheduled within a week or two. Your doctor will schedule exams to check on your progress. Each person heals differently so it is important to discuss the cataract surgery recovery with your eye doctor.
For a few days after surgery, your doctor may ask you to use eye drops to help to heal and decrease the risk of infection. Ask your cataract eye doctor about how to use your eye drops, how often to use them, and what effects they can have. You will need to wear an eye shield or eyeglasses to help protect your eye. Avoid rubbing or pressing on your eye.
Serious complications are extremely rare but because it is a form of surgery, there are some potential risks involved. Our staff and cataract surgeons will provide you with additional information about the risks associated with cataract surgery and answer any of the questions you may have. If you are at the beginning of your Houston cataract surgery research project please feel free to contact us at any time.
Frequently Asked Cataract Questions
Am I a candidate for laser cataract surgery?
Not everyone is a candidate for laser cataract surgery, and we highly recommend a consultation for a personalized surgical plan. “One size fits all” vision approaches are a thing of the past. The factors that make someone a medically good or poor candidate for laser cataract surgery include the presence of and location of corneal scars, history of certain kinds of eye surgeries or trauma in the past, and the anatomy of the conjunctiva, or the white part of the eye, and its underlying structures. No one has the same fingerprint or eyes!
When should I get cataract surgery?
You know, with cataract surgery it’s a little different from having LASIK or having PRK. With LASIK and PRK, if I decide I want to wait, then, I can wear glasses and contacts and likely still see 20/20. With a cataract, by definition, something’s clouding my vision that glasses won’t fix. So how long do you want to wait? Now, even so, cataract surgery is elective surgery. We always tell patients it’s nothing to be apprehensive about because it is such good surgery. And the safety record is so good.
The risks are there, and real, but low. And with laser cataract surgery, our safety results are even better. So it’s nothing to be apprehensive about. Luckily it’s also something you don’t have to rush into. You just won’t see as well as you could, with anything, until you have the cataract fixed. The cataract won’t damage your eye by being in there. It’s not going to, you know, damage structures. And, you know, you can, you know, take your time.
Typically you could have it done next week, next month, or even next year. But the vision will get worse, typically, as time goes on. And it won’t get better. So when you get to the point where you can’t do the things you want to do, whether it’s driving at night, reading, see the golf ball at a zillion yards, or whatever you were used to doing and you can’t do now. Then that’s the time to start thinking about having cataract surgery.
To be evaluated, see what your options are and then make up your decision. It’s elective surgery. The decision is yours. We can provide the information, there’s no rush. You just won’t see well, typically, until you have it fixed.
What should I expect on the day of surgery?
On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the surgery center and check-in. You will meet your nursing and anesthesiology teams, who will help keep you comfortable during your procedure. You’ll have the chance to read over the informed consent documents.
Prior to surgery, you’ll meet with Dr. Slade or Dr. Walton to re-visit your surgical plan and have any of your questions answered. The laser portion of the procedure comes first, after which Dr. Slade or Dr. Walton will remove the cataract fragments, polish and prepare the natural lens capsule for receiving your new intraocular lens (IOL), place the new IOL into the appropriate position and orientation, and ensure that the eye is well sealed (more than 99% of the time without any stitches).
What is the difference between standard cataract surgery and the laser cataract surgery that you do?
Stephen Slade MD: Standard cataract surgery is what we’ve done for years and years. It’s taking the cataract out, and it’s a wonderful technique. It’s taking the cataract out through a tiny incision, with an ultrasonic needle.
That being said, the amazing advance that we have pioneered, is laser cataract surgery. A lot of people have always thought that we do cataract surgery with a laser. I have to tell people that every day, “No, it’s not done with a laser.” We do use this little ultrasonic needle, but that’s been going on for about 30 years.
Laser cataract surgery is actually using a laser, where there is no cutting on the eye, with metal blades. It’s using the laser to do about half of the steps of cataract surgery. It’s a far more precise way to make the opening into the lens, without having to use a manual technique to make that opening. It’s a no-touch technique to actually break apart and soften the lens so that it can be removed more easily.
It shortens the time that we spend inside the eye, and it gives us a more precise way of doing all of these different things to the eye. So, in our experience with it, it adds a lot of different safety factors, and it adds precision.
What is the difference between traditional cataract surgery and laser cataract surgery?
Traditional cataract surgery is all done by hand with microsurgical instruments. Laser cataract surgery involves doing some of these steps with the geometric precision of the laser, which is more precise and reproducible. These steps include opening the natural lens capsule, dividing the cataract into pieces for low-energy removal, and corneal incisions commonly used to reduce post-operative astigmatism and improve the accuracy of the unaided post-operative vision.
Will standard (ultrasonic) cataract surgery become obsolete in the near future?
The laser can’t directly remove things from the eye. What it can do is make incisions in the eye. It can make all of the openings into the lens, and it can break up the lens. It can get it softened. It can get it ready to be taken out, but will still use, in most people, the ultrasound to remove the lens fragments. So I don’t think it’s going to make ultrasound go away.
In fact, I think the real clever physicians will be the ones that best blend the laser cataract surgery with the techniques of ultrasound so that we use, again, the laser sort of to do the first half of the surgery. And then the ultrasound, optimized to the laser, to do the second half of the surgery in a quicker, faster way. For example, we have found with the laser, we’re able to use less ultrasound. We have found with the laser first, that we do less manipulation of the eye.
We spend less time in the eye. We use less ultrasound. And the eye actually winds up in a healthier state. Because the less we do, typically with eyes, the better. So they actually work beautifully together. The laser does the first half. We use the ultrasound and the surgeon to do the second half. And in our experience, we’re ending up with a faster, more precise, more predictable, safer surgery that leaves the eye more intact.
That leaves the eye alone more and is gentler. A kinder, gentler approach to eye surgery. Which can translate to better results. We’re seeing people that have a more precise result. They’re seeing better, faster, quicker, more accurately. We’re very pleased that our visual results are even better with the laser.
Will I need to wear glasses or contacts after the surgery?
Many people have a better vision (without the help of glasses/contacts) after modern cataract surgery with Dr. Slade or Dr. Walton than they have ever had before!
However, it is important to realize that no one can guarantee to be glasses-free after surgery. In general, taking a vision correction approach to cataract surgery (which includes the use of the laser and possibly astigmatism correcting and/or range of vision intraocular lens) allows for far better glasses-free vision than would be achievable without these technological and optical advances.
How Long Does Laser Cataract Surgery Take?
The procedure only takes fifteen to twenty minutes, although plan on two to three hours for the entire process on the surgery day.
Laser Cataract Surgery
Laser cataract surgery was first performed in the United States by Dr. Stephen Slade within our office surgical suite. Laser cataract surgery uses the femtosecond laser to do many of the steps currently performed by hand and is designed to provide a greater level of precision and safety to modern cataract surgery.
“I have been involved in many new technology introductions, and I know from these past experiences that Laser Cataract Surgery, will be widely accepted by surgeons and demanded by patients all over the world,” said Dr. Slade after the procedure. “This is the cataract surgery that I would want for my friends, my family, and myself.”
Dr. Stephen Slade M.D., who performed the first bladeless laser cataract surgery in the US, performed LIVE laser cataract surgery at the ASCRS meeting in 2011. The laser is now approved in the US. Laser cataract surgery uses a Femtosecond laser to do many of the steps that have been done in the past by hand in cataract surgery. The use of the laser may add safety and precision to cataract surgery.