Home E-Weekly July 16, 2013

When Do Surgeons Master Laser Cataracts?

Published: July 15, 2013

Eye surgeons appear to become competent with laser cataract surgery after approximately 200 cases, says a study in the journal Ophthalmology.

Australian researchers reviewed cases involving 1,500 patients who underwent femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery and refractive lens exchange in a single group practice between April 2011 and March 2012. The cases were divided into 2 groups: the first 200 and the subsequent 1,300.

The researchers say incidences of anterior and posterior capsular tears and posterior lens dislocations were reduced as surgeons became more experienced with the technology. Experienced surgeons also required fewer docking attempts in placing the disposable interface to the eye, and had fewer incidences of post-laser pupillary constriction and anterior capsular tags, notes the study.

Lead author Gerard Sutton, MBBS, MD, and his colleagues note most laser-related complications are predictable and largely preventable, thanks in part to surgeon experience, the development of modified techniques and improved laser technology. The professor of corneal and refractive surgery at the medical school foundation of the University of Sydney in Australia told Ocular Surgery News that the newer femtosecond units introduced since his study was performed would have reduced the learning curve. He believes laser techniques are most beneficial to novice surgeons who might otherwise struggle with making capsulotomies and nuclear fractures in dense cataracts.

"There is no doubt that this technology is at least the equivalent of current standard techniques, with the promise and some early signs that it may prove safer and more predictable," says Dr. Sutton. "The learning curve is now not that steep, and it is a delightful addition to an already wonderful surgical procedure."

Daniel Cook

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