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Millions of people around the world live with cataracts, a common condition in which the eye’s lens becomes progressively cloudy, making vision fuzzy and normal daily living activities more difficult. Poor vision caused by cataracts cannot be corrected with glasses or contacts, but it can be treated with surgery to remove and replace the cataract. In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most widely performed procedures worldwide, estimated at 19 million cases each year.

For decades, cataract surgeons have used handheld instruments to perform some of the most challenging parts of the procedure. Today, surgeons at Eyesight Associates can perform these steps with a FDA approved laser system called CATALYS. The CATALYS combines a femtosecond laser, 3D imaging, sophisticated software and a number of other innovative features that make the cataract procedure highly customized, gentle and significantly more precise than manual surgery. The imaging and laser portion of the treatment takes only a few minutes and causes little or no discomfort to patients. Dr. Johnny Gayton and Dr. Kent Price of Eyesight Associates are the first in Georgia to offer this laser.

“The addition of the CATALYS to our practice has been beneficial to a large group of our patients. We are now able to safely offer premium services to patients with hard or hypermature cataracts,” said Dr. Gayton. “These patients are now able to benefit from faster recovery and better vision after surgery.”

Every eye has a distinct size and shape. CATALYS’ advanced 3D imaging technology customizes the cataract procedure by building a 3D map of each eye. The surgeons at Eyesight Associates then automatically tailor the individual patient’s treatment plan to that map.

Next, they use CATALYS to create a circular opening in the capsule that holds the cataract. The goal in this step is to create an opening that is as circular as possible and sized to fit the replacement lens. Clinical studies have shown that CATALYS creates these circular openings approximately 10 times more accurately than those created by hand.

The circular opening then allows the surgeon to access and remove the cataract. In the traditional manual procedure, a mechanical instrument and ultrasound energy are used during this step to break up and take out the lens. With CATALYS, the laser softens the cataract and breaks it into tiny pieces. The new softening technique allows for more gentle removal by nearly or completely eliminating the ultrasound energy required. This low-energy approach reduces inflammation, with faster recovery expected.

Depending on the patient’s pre-operative vision and desired visual result, Eyesight Associates’ surgeons may recommend a tailored treatment plan with Catalys that could include creating ultra-precise laser incisions in the cornea and a specific lens type. This tailored treatment may reduce the need for glasses or contacts after surgery.

“The CATALYS adds a greater amount of precision to cataract surgery then with traditional methods. We are able to offer a safer procedure and allow more patients to be less dependent on glasses,” Said Dr. Gayton.

Jill of Warner Robins, GA had cataract surgery with CATALYS at Eyesight Associates on March 7, 2013.

“After 44 years of contact lenses and glasses, I was able to discard them. My vision is better than ever! Colors are brighter and everything is much clearer. I didn’t feel anything during the surgery, it was much easier then I imagined,” Jill said.

The CATALYS Precision Laser System was developed by global ophthalmic company OptiMedica Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) in close collaboration with a Medical Advisory Board of cataract surgery experts from around the world.