Laser Cataract Surgery vs Phacoemulsification: Which One Is Better?

February 8, 2022

Both the techniques of cataract surgery can effectively remove the cataract in its own ways. The main factor to be considered is which technique is most appropriate for you. Talk to an ophthalmologist or go through this article to get a better understanding. 

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What is Phacoemulsification?

Phacoemulsification is the traditional technique for cataract surgery. This is the traditional method of restoring vision in people suffering from the loss of vision due to severe stages of cataracts. This technique was introduced in the late 1960s. Phacoemulsification revolutionized the way eye surgeons remove cataracts. Prior to the invention of Phacoemulsification, surgeons had to remove the entire lens and the capsule to treat the cataract. As the capsule was removed, implanting an intraocular lens became difficult. Hence, for better vision, individuals had to wear thick, magnifying glasses for clearer vision. 

Phacoemulsification is performed on an outpatient basis which means patients can go back home on the same day of the surgery. Cataract surgery is a painless procedure as the whole procedure is performed under the influence of anesthesia. Before the surgery, several eye drops are administered to dilate the pupil as well as sedate the eye. 

Procedure of Phacoemulsification

The procedure of Phacoemulsification is actually quite simple. However, as a large part of the procedure requires manual labor, the surgeon has to be highly trained and must possess a high track of completing cataract surgeries with this technique. First, the surgeon makes a small incision on the cornea to make an opening. This opening lets him/her reach the lens. After this, they insert a microscopic probe through this opening. The probe generally emits ultrasonic waves. After charging the instrument at ultrasonic speed, it dissolves the lens completely. The fragments are then sucked out by the tip of the probe. 

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The second part of the surgery is implanting a new intraocular lens and positioning it carefully so that it sits perfectly on the lens capsule. For this, the doctor makes another incision on the cornea and passes the lens through a hollowed tube. Once the lens reaches perfectly into location, it is positioned in place. 

What is Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery?

The use of laser technology to get rid of cataracts is known as laser-assisted cataract surgery. After almost two decades of the invention of phacoemulsification, this technique was introduced. The actual name of the technique is Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery or FLACS. This is a bladeless procedure giving it an edge over the traditional phacoemulsification. Comparatively novel than phacoemulsification, several clinics in India have adopted this technique as the only way to treat cataracts permanently. 

The procedure of laser-assisted cataract surgery is almost similar to the phacoemulsification technique. The primary difference between the two is that there is no human intervention in the FLACS technique. From making an incision to implanting the lens, the whole procedure is computerized. 

Laser-assisted Cataract Surgery vs. Phacoemulsification

The following table explains the primary points of distinction between the most advanced technique- laser-assisted cataract surgery and phacoemulsification. 

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Laser-assisted cataract surgery Phacoemulsification 
This procedure is a non-invasive option in which there are no cuts nor any incisions. During the procedure, the surgeons make several incisions or cuts.
Several studies confirm the statement that this technique makes sure that there are fewer risks of complications. The same studies that compare laser-assisted cataract surgery and phacoemulsification pointed out that the latter poses a high risk of complications such as bleeding, injury to the optic nerve, etc. 
Accurate and precise results are one of the USPs of laser-assisted cataract surgery. Human interventions while making the incisions make it a technique with poor results. 
Doctors explain that wounds heal within 12 hours of the surgery.Due to a surgical incision made with a scalpel, the eyes take more than a week to recover. 
In addition to cataracts, this also treats refractive errors such as astigmatism,Phacoemulsification is a technique that solely focuses on removing cataracts. 
Vision is able to restore completely within a day or two. It takes more than 2-3 days for the vision to restore completely after phacoemulsification. 
Laser-assisted cataract surgery cures all stages of cataracts. Effective results are only possible until the cataract reaches severe grades of maturity.
Lower risk of complications is ensured as it takes less energy to break the diseased lens.Due to the vibrating needle used to break the lens, there is a high risk of a severe side effect occurring. 

Advantages of laser-assisted cataract surgery

The following benefits make cataract surgery with a laser far more effective than other types of cataract surgery. 

  • The whole procedure lasts for only 15-20 mins that saves valuable time for the patient. 
  • No side effects are likely to occur with laser-assisted cataract surgery.
  • Not only cataracts, but it also cures refractive errors such as astigmatism.
  • 100% accuracy and precision is assured with laser-assisted cataract surgery
  • Guarantees much faster recovery as well as quicker vision restoration. 


The question of which technique of cataract surgery is better depends on the patient’s current severity of the condition. Undoubtedly, laser technology is a better technique given that it offers so many benefits to the patient. In case you are still unsure, it is better that you consult a well-experienced eye surgeon without any further delay.

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