Bringing Life Back into Focus

New bladeless laser cataract surgery increases accuracy and reduces recovery time

photo of Dr. Jarstad doing surgery
Comparing the laser he uses to a perfectly circular stencil, Jarstad says it allows him to perform cataract surgery after cataract surgery with amazing accuracy. One of the first surgeons in the United States to master bladeless laser cataract surgery, he has performed the procedure more than 1,000 times.

As we age our eyes change, and many people develop cloudy vision caused by cataracts. By age 80, more than half of all Americans will either have cataracts or will have undergone a surgery to remove them. University of Missouri Health Care offers patients the most advanced cataract removal technology available today.

As Columbia’s first bladeless laser cataract surgery provider, MU Health Care is committed to bringing our patients unmatched accuracy and precision. Bladeless laser cataract surgery is a painless procedure that uses a computer-controlled refractive laser to break up cataracts. The laser also has the ability to correct astigmatism and can fix both nearsightedness and farsightedness.

“This new technology improves the precision of cataract surgery,” says John Jarstad, MD, director of cataract and LASIK surgery at MU Health Care and associate professor of ophthalmology at the MU School of Medicine. “ e bene t is that there is less stress on the eye, which leads to less inflammation and trauma, ultimately ending in a quicker recovery.”

‘Perfect every time’

The laser portion of the surgery takes about 30 seconds, after which the unhealthy pieces are suctioned out, and a new lens is implanted. There are no needles or scalpels involved and no stitches. Patients typically see results immediately, and recovery takes about one week.

“Before the surgery, I absolutely could not have passed the driving vision test without my contacts or glasses,” says Diane Linneman, a Columbia resident. Linnemann had bladeless laser cataract surgery on her left eye in September 2016 and her right eye in October. “The freedom now is amazing.”

Jarstad compares the accuracy of laser surgery to drawing a circle freehand on a piece of paper.

“You can get pretty close to a perfect circle occasionally, but if you have a stencil, or in this case, a laser, you can be perfect every time,” he says.

And he’s done just that. Jarstad was one of the first surgeons in the United States to master bladeless laser cataract surgery and has performed the procedure more than 1,000 times.

Vision renewed

Patients with complex cataracts or those who want premium lenses will benefit the most from bladeless cataract surgery, Jarstad says. Anyone who is unable to to hold still for two to three minutes or has a morgagnian cataract — one that has been left untreated for too long and has been liquefied — would not be a good candidate and should consider having standard treatment.

“The oldest patient I treated with bladeless laser cataract surgery was 103 years old,” Jarstad says. “After surgery, her comment was, ‘I wish I’d done this 30 years ago!’ ”

The biggest surprise for patients, Jarstad adds, is that there is no pain from the surgery and that colors appear much more vivid following the procedure.

“In many cases, patients no longer need to wear glasses or contacts to see clearly,” he says.