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Archive August 2020 XXI, No. 8

Looking at the Latest Trends in Cataract Surgery

Our annual reader survey reveals ophthalmic facilities continue to embrace new technologies even as COVID-19 impacts case volumes and patient confidence.

Joe Paone

Joe Paone


LOOKING INTO LASER Survey respondents reported increased use of femtosecond lasers for cataract surgery, but a significant minority still has not embraced the technology.

It's certainly been a challenging year for eye surgery centers, many of which were forced to close for several weeks during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The adoption of new tools, technologies and medications for enhancing surgical outcomes continues unabated, however, according to results of our 2020 cataract technology reader survey. Let's take a closer look at what the responses reveal.

  • Femtosecond laser. Use of femtosecond lasers is now reported by a majority of respondents ­— up from 40% in our 2018 survey to 60% this year. In terms of the percentage of cases for which surgery centers use the laser, almost 40% said they are in the 26% to 50% range, while 45% said they use it on less than a quarter of their patients. More than 60% of respondents expect laser cataract procedures to grow "moderately" at their centers over the next two years. Interestingly, however, more than 80% of centers that aren't using femto lasers say it's unlikely they'll be performing laser cataract surgery in the next two years, which indicates a leveling out of the market.

"We've been performing femtosecond cataract surgery for eight years, and our volume and percentages have been steady over time," says one respondent. Another predicts laser cataract procedures will grow significantly in their facility because "patients are more informed and want the best outcomes." A nurse manager at a Michigan surgery center cited laser's virtues as "ease of use, less trauma to the eye and better outcomes," and adds their surgeons love it.

However, a significant minority has yet to embrace the technology. "We did perform femto laser-assisted cataract surgery for a year and found our results were just as good without it," says Susan Marks, MS, BS, administrator at Augusta (Ga.) Eye Surgery. Dianna Reed, BA, administrator at Sani Eye Surgery Center in Templeton, Calif., says it's "faster for my doctors to perform surgery without the laser." An administrator at a New York City surgery center says they simply don't have room for the platform.

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