Fields: One of the most common surgeries in the United States is getting a new focus all thanks to lasers. Carey Pena joining us now and, I guess, Carey, after years of being used over in Europe to treat cataracts, doctors here in the U.S. are now catching on.
Carey Pena: Yeah, that's right, Fields. So laser surgery for cataracts was approved several years ago, but there are still only a few hundred doctors using it in the U.S. We found one here in the valley and he says it is making the surgery easier and safer.
Glen Navis: I wanted to play softball. I wanted to join a softball team and the first time I was out there I didn't do very well at all.
Carey Pena: But Glen Navis's softball game was not suffering from a lack of skill, rather a lack of sight. He could not keep his eye on the ball.
Glen Navis: It would get, like, five feet away from me and it would just disappear and you'd just be kind of, 'Well, I . . .'
Carey Pena: Thinking he needed glasses, Navis went in for an eye exam.
Glen Navis: The first thing he said to me was, 'Well, you have cataracts. I'm like, 'Well, how bad can they be?' He says, 'Well, you can still drive.'
Carey Pena: Which is how and why he ended up here at the Arizona Eye Institute and Cosmetic Laser Center, laser being the key word.
Dr Emilio Justo: With this femtosecond laser, there's only a couple hundred of them in the United States, so it's still a very new technology.
Carey Pena: Because he's active and did not want a lot of downtime, Navis liked the idea of laser cataract surgery. Dr. Emilio Justo is one of the few doctors doing it here and says quick, easy healing is do to the precision of the cut the laser makes for doctors to access the cataract.
Dr. Emilio Justo: It's a three plane incision. It goes down into the cornea, across horizontally, down gain by making that tri-beveled incision. It self seals, does not require any stitches.
Glen Navis: So I was only out, I think I only missed three games of softball.
Dr. Emilio Justo: In doing it by the laser, in my opinion, makes it much more reproducible, precise, and accurate. And with that reproducibility, in my estimation, comes an increased safety factor.
Carey Pena: The laser is also able to accurately cut through the center of the cataract.
Dr. Emilio Justo: Once the implant is put in, the new lens, it makes it for better quality vision because that implant is better centered.
Carey Pena: The lens Navis had put in to replace the old one also helped to correct his astigmatism, and he says that has put him back in the game.
Glen Navis: My last game I had five fielding chances and no errors, and I had three hits.
Carey Pena: Well, that's pretty good right there. And while insurance does cover cataract surgery most, so far, do not cover the laser procedure. We put more information on our website, azfamily.com.