While there are some similarities between LASIK and cataract surgery, the truth is these procedures are radically different, as they address different vision problems. This article compares these two eye surgery procedures, in order for you to understand the difference between them.
LASIK is a technique that reshapes the cornea (which is the outer layer of the eyeball) with the purpose of helping the eye focus the light on the retina. As opposed to this, cataract surgery is a procedure that replaces the natural lens of the eye with an artificial one. Sometimes, the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The only remedy is to replace it with an intraocular lens, known as an IOL.
LASIK surgery is usually performed on both eyes during the same session. Most of the times, cataract surgery is performed in two steps, one for each eye, on two separate days. While cataract surgery is reimbursed by insurance, LASIK is not. Nonetheless, if you have a flexible savings account, you may be able to use it to pay for your LASIK surgery. It’s worth mentioning here that only the basic cataract procedure is covered by insurance. If you opt for extras such as a premium IOL and laser surgery, you’ll need to pay for them yourself.
How Are The Two Procedures Similar?
Lasik & Cataract Both Use Laser Technology
Both of them make use of laser technology to perform some of the stages of the surgery.
For instance, in the case of all-laser LASIK surgeons use two lasers: a femtosecond laser creates the flip in the cornea, and the excimer laser changes the corneal shape. Cataract surgery uses a femtosecond laser to remove the natural lens of the eye.
Both surgeries allow patients to enjoy a 20/20 or even better vision. Both of them are performed under local anesthesia, so they don’t require the patient to be asleep. They are both very fast, requiring 15 minutes, or even less. In the case of LASIK, the procedure can be done in less than five minutes per eye. Last but not least, none of these procedures requires any recovery time.
Is It Possible To Have Both Surgeries On The Same Eye?
As these two procedures target different areas of the eye (the cornea and the lens), you can have them performed on the same eye. LASIK is usually performed by relatively younger people to correct for myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism. Cataract surgery is more common in older patients who need the cloudy natural lens of the eye to be replaced with an artificial one.
Can These Two Procedures Be Used Together?
The answer is YES. When the natural lens is replaced by an artificial one, but the vision isn’t perfect just yet, the eye surgeon may perform the LASIK procedure on the cornea to correct the tiny lack of focus resulting after cataract surgery. Nonetheless, as IOLs have dramatically improved over the past years, this mixed procedure is less and less frequent, because cataract surgery provides perfect vision in most patients.