Laser cataract surgery, known as FemtoSecond Cataract surgery is the latest buzz and the anointed “next big thing”. In my opinion, it should be considered “not ready for prime time”. Eventually, femtosecond lasers will help cataract surgeons reach even higher levels of safety and accuracy, right now it provides lots of hype and almost no substance. Furthermore, the same corporate players who sucked most of the profit from the LASIK industry now see baby boomers turning into cataract patients. Their mouths are watering with greed.
Basically, FemtoSecond Cataract surgery uses a laser to make some of the incisions traditionally created by surgeons with diamond blades and super sharp medical grade stainless steel blades. Unfortunately, the lasers remain in their first generation and make cuts that simply don’t compare. It has been said that Femto turns average or novice cataract surgeons into good cataract surgeons. After 40,000 cataract surgeries I don’t consider myself average or a novice so the entire concept is irrelevant.
Half the studies show an increase risk of surgical complications with Femto and no controlled studies show enhanced results for patients. One day, Femto will be ready, but for now I choose not to use my patients as guinea pigs. Corporations are charging surgeons $400 for each patient who has FemtoSecond Cataract surgery. Since Medicare and other companies reimburse approximately $650 per case, the added costs are placed on the patient. The coup de grâce is that FemtoSecond surgery can only be performed with other “added services” like Premium Implants. Consequently, patients are going several thousand dollars out of pocket for the privilege of being a lab rat. That won’t fly with me.