Harvard Health Letter

Advances in eye surgery

Finally, lasers for cataracts, thanks to 3D imaging.

We often think of three-dimensional (3D) images and lasers in terms of science fiction movies. But these two technologies are now being used in the very real realm of cataract surgery. "They both already exist, and we are just now bringing them together for novel use," says Dr. Roberto Pineda, director of refractive surgery at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Normal vs. Cataract Lens

Normal vs. Cataract Lens

Cataract surgery

When the natural lens of your eye becomes cloudy—often with age—it's called a cataract. It can be removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant. This is a common outpatient procedure. An ophthalmologist uses surgical instruments and ultrasound power to break up, remove, and replace the eye's cloudy lens.

Because surgeons are dealing with such tiny spaces in the eye, they've looked to lasers, not blades, for improved precision. But lasers have been used only for other eye surgeries, such as vision correction (LASIK) surgery. Cataract surgery requires surgeons to look much deeper into the eye. That's where 3D imaging comes in.

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