Cataract Treatment: Lasers vs. Traditional Cataract Surgery

cataract treatment buffalo NY

Cataracts are some of the most common eye ailments and affect millions of people all over the globe, especially older folks. For many years, cataracts were treated through traditional surgery, which involves making an incision in the cornea to remove the clouded lens. This treatment is still used to help many cataract patients today.

In recent years, technological advancements in medicine laser allowed a new type of cataract surgery to blossom: laser surgery. This type of blade-free cataract surgery is becoming more and more widely used, and it has several advantages. With that being said, traditional cataract surgery is still performed frequently and is a perfectly safe and viable procedure.

Let’s learn more about what cataracts are and about each type of treatment. Then, we’ll discuss the similarities and differences between traditional and laser cataract surgery to help you decide which method is right for you.

What are Cataracts?

The eye has a lens that helps focus light upon the back of the eye, which sends that signal to the brain for processing. This is the way that our eyes transmit an image to our brain. A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, opaque, or discolored. To a person with cataracts, the effect is similar to looking out of a cloudy window. Other symptoms include:

· Seeing halos around lights

· Sensitivity to light or glare

· Poor night vision

· Seeing colors as faded or washed-out

· Double vision

The leading cause of cataracts is simple aging – over time, it’s common for the lens of the eye to get clouded. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about two in three Americans over the age of 80, and about 30 million Americans in total, have cataracts. There are other possible causes of cataracts, however, including steroid use, eye injury, and exposure to ultraviolet light. Additionally, certain diseases such as diabetes make the development of cataracts more likely. In fact, people over 65 with diabetes are twice as likely to develop cataracts as people of the same age who don’t have diabetes, according to Medical News Today.

How Are Cataracts Treated?

In some cases, treatment for cataracts isn’t necessary, particularly if the problem is only minor and the individual can still go about their daily life without much impairment. But the problem is likely to grow over time, eventually clouding more and more of the eye and affecting vision. If cataracts are left untreated, they can obscure the entire field of vision and cause complete blindness.

Eventually, cataracts will require treatment. And unfortunately, it’s not as simple as taking a pill or putting medicated eye drops into your eyes. Surgery is the best option for removing clouded lenses entirely and helping a patient get back to normal vision. There are two options: traditional cataract surgery and laser-assisted cataract surgery.

Types of Cataract Surgery: Traditional vs. Laser-Assisted

What does traditional cataract surgery involve? How about laser-assisted surgery? Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of cataract surgery options.

Traditional Cataract Surgery

Traditional surgery to remove a cataract involves using a blade to make a tiny incision on the side of the cornea (the lens) and removing the cataract-clouded lens. Then, an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens is inserted to replace the natural lens. Sutures may be used to close the incision, but it’s more common for the incision to be left to heal on its own over time.

How Long Does Traditional Cataract Surgery Take?

Traditional cataract surgery is a very quick procedure – the actual removal of the cataract-clouded lens only takes about 20 minutes or so. And the recovery period is relatively fast, too. Most people are fully healed and back to normal activities within a few days or weeks.

What is Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery?

Laser surgery to remove a cataract lens utilizes laser technology and 3D imaging. The first step involves the surgeon creating a customized digital plan for the cataract surgery using 3D imaging of the patient’s eye. The process is “mapped” precisely ahead of time.

The procedure involves using an advanced type of laser known as a femtosecond laser to create an opening in the front layer of the lens. The laser breaks up the cloudy lens, and then the lens is suctioned out through small incisions in the patient’s cornea. Next, an intraocular lens replaces the natural lens, just like in traditional cataract surgery.

Differences Between Traditional Cataract Surgery and Laser Cataract Surgery

The result of traditional and laser cataract surgery is the same: removal of the clouded lens and replacement with an artificial one. But there are clear differences between the procedures.

Tools Used

One big difference between these two procedures is in the tools used. With traditional cataract surgery, manual instruments are used – a blade to make an incision in the cornea, and forceps or a suction tool

to remove the lens. In laser surgery, no blades or instruments are used at all. The laser itself makes the incisions and breaks up the clouded lens.

The use of fewer tools in laser cataract surgery adds to the overall safety of the procedure, and many steps in the process are automated and computer-controlled which reduces the risk of complications even further. However, traditional cataract surgery is still a very safe procedure with an extremely low risk of complications or side effects.


Laser cataract surgery uses 3D imaging to create a customized plan for a patient’s cataract removal. And the laser itself allows for very precise incisions and movements. In this way, laser eye surgery for cataracts is overall more accurate and precise than traditional cataract surgery.

Similarities with Traditional and Laser Cataract Surgery

As different as these two types of procedures are, they also share plenty of similarities. Namely, the two types of cataract surgery last the same length of time and are equally safe.


Whether a surgeon is using manual tools or being assisted by a laser, traditional and laser cataract surgeries are very quick procedures. The removal of the cloudy lens only takes a few minutes – 10 to 20 minutes is the average time, although it can take longer depending on the severity of the cataracts.


Both types of cataract surgery are extremely safe. It’s one of the most common medical procedures performed by ophthalmologists and eye surgeons. And the procedure is highly effective – according to UCI Health, the success rate is 99 percent.

Schedule a Consultation with the Ophthalmologists at ECVA to Determine Which Cataract Treatment is Right for You

Which cataract treatment is right for you? That depends on the severity of your cataracts, your health history and previous eye surgeries you may have undergone, and the advice of your ophthalmologist and other eye-care professionals. Both types of cataract surgery are used frequently – laser eye surgery for cataracts is generally more precise and may help lessen recovery time, but traditional cataract surgery is a perfectly viable procedure as well.

In the early stages of cataracts, treatment might not be necessary at all. Some patients are aided by different eyeglasses, magnifying glasses, or different and/or stronger lighting. But eventually, cataracts will get worse and start to affect eyesight. At that point or whenever cataracts start to affect a person’s ability to perform normal activities, surgery is usually recommended.

Looking for cataract removal in Buffalo, NY?

If you have signs or symptoms of cataracts, or if you’d like to learn more about this condition and the treatment options available, ECVA can help. The safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our top priority – schedule an appointment at the nearest ECVA clinic today.

What is a Visual or Ocular Migraine

When people think of migraine headaches, physical discomfort or pain is usually the part that comes to mind first. However, migraines can also come with visual disturbances, and it’s even possible to have a migraine where the only symptom is a change to your vision. In either of those cases, the person is dealing with a visual migraine.  

Also known as ocular migraines, visual migraines can cause significant vision issues, making it hard – if not impossible – to navigate their environment safely. If you’re curious about visual migraines, including the different types, the symptoms you may experience, and when it’s wise to seek treatment, here’s what you need to know.  

Types of Visual Migraines and Their Symptoms  

Generally speaking, there are two types of visual migraine. First, there is migraine with aura. Here, both eyes may experience vision changes. Usually, it begins with the formation of a flickering, jagged blind spot. As the migraine continues, the blind spot can grow, generally forming a C-shape.  

Along with blind spots, a person might experience bright flashes of light or stars. The blind spots can also develop into a wide range of shapes and patterns and are often accompanied by other symptoms, including tinnitus, numbness, tingling, facial weakness, and difficulty speaking. Usually, a migraine with aura symptoms lasts between five and 60 minutes.  

The other kind of visual migraine is a retinal migraine. Generally, retinal migraines only impact one eye at a time. There may be bright flashes followed by a vision decline, including losing the ability to see out of that eye entirely.  

Usually, the symptoms of a retinal migraine last for up to 20 minutes. Additionally, they are highly intrusive while occurring, substantially altering a person’s vision to the point of having trouble navigating environments or managing everyday tasks.  

It’s important to note that vision losses can remain after a retinal migraine ends. However, this is relatively rare.  

When to Seek Treatment for Visual Migraines  

Generally, it’s best to seek treatment for all kinds of visual migraines. While a migraine with aura usually ends within an hour, the symptoms a person experiences can align with other potentially serious medical conditions. As a result, it’s best to consult with a professional to confirm a migraine is responsible.  

With retinal migraines, seeing an eye care provider is also essential. By doing so, a treatment plan can be developed, reducing the odds of long-term vision changes after episodes. Additionally, some of the symptoms of a retinal migraine are also symptoms of some serious medical conditions, such as a retinal detachment or injury. By seeking medical attention right away, you increase your odds of getting prompt treatment if another condition is causing the symptoms.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you have signs or symptoms of ocular migraines and want professional insights into what you’re experiencing or haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Your Eyes

Many people have questions about their eyes and vision, particularly regarding visual changes, discomfort, and safety. If you’re one of them, here is a look at some frequently asked questions about eyes.  

Do Wearing Readers Make Your Eyesight Worse?  

Losing some visual acuity comes along with aging, leading many people to turn to reading glasses at some point in their 40s or 50s. However, when their vision declines further, they may wonder if the reading glasses (readers) are to blame.  

In reality, readers don’t harm your vision. Instead, any change in your visual acuity is usually natural, reflecting normal changes that can occur as you age. However, since there can be other causes for vision changes – including some serious medical conditions – it’s best to see your eye care provider to confirm whether you’re experiencing a typical vision decline or if something else is occurring.  

Can I Drive If My Eyes Are Dilated?  

When you get dilation drops, your pupils widen, causing them to take in more light. In most cases, driving home after an eye dilation is fine if you wear sunglasses to reduce the amount of light coming into the eye.  

However, every person is different, and dilating the pupils can cause blurry near vision for several hours. While the distance vision is usually unaffected, if a person’s distance vision is lacking and they’re experiencing near-vision blurriness, they may be better off having someone else drive them.  

Why Does My Vision Fluctuate?  

A significant amount of vision fluctuation can be signal a potential issue. High blood glucose levels may cause short-term changes in the lens, leading to blurriness or distortions. When the glucose levels decline, the person’s vision then clears.  

Since blood glucose fluctuations of this magnitude can be a symptom of an underlying health condition, such as diabetes or diabetic retinopathy, it’s best to see a medical professional. That way, they can determine the reason for the vision changes and create a treatment plan if needed.  

Why Do My Eyes Hurt When Working at a Computer?  

Working in front of a computer – or any other kind of screen – causes people to stop blinking as much. Since blinking is critical for keeping eyes moist, you may experience more issues with dry eye if you spend a significant amount of time in front of a computer. Dry eyes can come with a variety of symptoms, including discomfort, itchiness, and fatigue.  

Plus, depending on brightness settings, font sizes, and similar settings, you may end up with eye strain. Insufficient contrast or small fonts may make it hard to read what’s on a screen, causing a person to struggle to focus. An incredibly bright screen might be rough on the eyes, leading to squinting. In either of those cases, pain and fatigue can come with the territory.  

Generally, the best way to combat these issues is to give your eyes a break. The 20/20/20 rule can be a great place to start, ensuring you look away from the screen and at something in the distance for a minimum of 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Using eye drops can also help, ensuring your eyes remain moist, as well as adjusting your screen settings to make it more comfortable to use.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you have any questions about your vision or eye health or haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the team at ECVA is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.