Laser vs. traditional surgery

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My Mom has extremely bad cataracts. The laser costs 1400- per eye(not covered by Medicare). The doctor said on a scale of 1-5(5 being the worst) my Mom's are almost a 5. We were leaning toward traditional but since they are so bad he really thinks the laser is the best way to remove them for a good result. I had taken her to a different doctor several months ago but he was just too pushy and seemed all about only making the extra money for the laser so I took her to someone else who I was told would not push the laser which he did not but strongly recommended it for a good result. I only care about doing the best thing for my Mom(she is 81). I would love some input and opinions on this topic. He also was going to do the second eye 12 days later. Is this ok? 

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  • Posted

    Hi sorry to hear your troubles in finding sound reasonable advice from a surgeon.

    If you do a google search you'll see there is plenty of controversy whether laser assisted surgery adds anything more than additional expense vs traditional surgery.  I just had traditional surgery with one eye done in July and the other eye last month. Outcome is fine and I am pleased with results.

    When you say on a scale of 1 to 5 what exactly makes your mom's a 5?

    I don't see many cases where laser would be any more beneficial unless perhaps the patient is getting a premium lens of some kind—toric, multifocal or accommodating. Although I got a premium lens and still had traditional cataract surgery (in Canada since it is covered by healthcare the majority of these are done using traditional method. Most surgeons don’t use femtosecond laser for a standard procedure which is likely what your mom would be needing unless there is a specific issue with her eyes.  

    Are there any surgeons you can take her to that would stick with what is covered by insurance?

    In regards to surgery 12 days apart that would be fine as long as there are no complications with first eye.  A lot of places here in Canada do the surgeries a month a part that way they can adjustments if needed.

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    • Posted

      Hi Sue.An, He said it is a very advanced thick, hard, difficult cataract. He strongly said to do the laser procedure in her case for a better outcome. She is not getting a premium lens. He would probably do the standard but strongly advised against it. I will not do anything to put her at risk for a poor outcome. I just want to do the right thing. 
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    • Posted

      Hoping a few others will offer some opinions.

      Is your mom an active 81 year old or now living with you or in assisted living?

      I have tried searching on the internet but really can't find evidence that laser assisted cataract surgery would result in a better outcome. 

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    • Posted

      My Mom lives with me. I also cannot find anything online regarding laser being better. I know the stress of this is not good for my Mom. She just wants to trust the Doctor and do what he says is best which is the laser. I on the other hand am unsure. At this point she has a surgery date of 10/12 set up and wants to get it over with. I just want her to be ok. I worry and care about her so much. Thank you fot talking to me.
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    • Posted

      Wish you all the best.  Yes likely not good to delay surgery any further.  I am guessing it had been put off too long and reason for dense cataracts?

      I am sure she'll be pleased with the outcome whether laser or traditional.  My only piece of advice is to ensure the surgeon has done lots of these surgeries.  You can have the best IOL or equipment but if the surgeon hasn't the expertise then neither will be of much help.

      Good luck and again hoping others will weigh in with their opinions.

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  • Posted

    I have advanced cataract in both eyes. I had lazer surgery for the first one $3300 mono focal tecnis. I see well intermediate and distance and glass for reading.

    i chosed lazer because my thick cataract need to be broken down quickly, and it may be easy on my eye. May be in conventional method the doctor need to spend more time to scarp and clean the hardend cataract and it could be hard on the eye. I have booked the 2end eye also for lazer surgery. My eyes are the most presious thing for me to live rest of my life, though I am not young. Though cost is biting my hand I chosed it. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Rose, My Moms cataracts are very advanced and it seems the laser is easier on the eye which is probably why it was suggested. I agree that good vision is so important and the cost if necessary to have a good outcome will be worth it. I am glad your procedure went well and hope for the same for my Mother.
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  • Posted

    At least  in our area (Seattle), some cataract surgeons (including my surgeon) use a Laser System for cataract surgery because they feel that "it provides a safer, gentler, and highly customizable procedure,"  and do not charge ANY ADDITIONAL COST beyond that of a traditional cataract surgery. That is true for all lenses, whether these are premium or not. It is strictly a preference of the surgeon. Medicare does not pay for any additional cost for laser surgery because there should not be any charge for that. Your surgeon is just trying to make extra money for something which should be part of the basic cataract surgery.

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    • Posted

      I agree with you that there should be no additional cost and that it is all about the money. I live on Long Island,NY and everything is expensive. I really feel I have no options but to do the laser. I have already taken my Mom to 2 doctors and both said to do laser. She does not want to go to another doctor.  In addition I need transportation to the surgical facility. It is only 10 miles from my house but I am unable to drive that distance and I am alone taking care of my Mother. I have no friends or family I can call. Even a Taxi will cost about 100-. Nothing is easy unfortunately.
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