With the advent of laser-based cataract surgery, patients are experiencing better outcomes and shorter recovery times. In fact, a recent study determined that, although there was little difference in the immediate outcome after LASIK versus traditional cataract surgery in Los Angeles, more than two times the LASIK patients achieved uncorrected vision measurements of 20/20 or 20/25 one month after surgery compared to those who had traditional cataract surgery.
One of the main reasons laser eye surgery has been so successful is due to the fact that it’s more precise and the smaller incision causes fewer post-operative complication like calcification, inflammation and glare; these are especially pronounced in children’s cataract surgeries.
While newer surgical methods are facilitating better outcomes, new studies performed at the University of California and Sun Yat-sen University of China, under the supervision of Dr. Kang Zhang, offer hope to remove altogether the complications after cataract surgery.
Stem Cell Preservation
The scientists discovered that one of the predominate factors in post-surgery deterioration is the destruction of lens epithelial stem cells during surgery. Like most stem cells, these are able to regenerate themselves, leading to the formation of near-perfect double-convex lenses after surgery and none of the typical complications.
Although the study was initially performed on primates and then on infants and toddlers with congenital cataracts, the scientists discovered that the same stem cells are present in the eyes of elderly eye surgery candidates.
Another study that found success used pluripotent stem cells treated with biochemicals to grow replacement corneas, lenses, and retinas in a lab for implantation. This seems to suggest similar superior outcomes for seniors visiting cataract surgery centers in the near future.
Better Outcomes for Cataract Surgeries
The key to success in the clinical trials for the U of C study was the use of minimal invasive procedures to preserve the stem cells during surgery, a goal which LASIK is ideal for achieving. This mode of enabling natural double-convex lens regeneration would constitute a breakthrough in post-operative healing in cataract surgery recipients of all ages.
If this proves to be true after further trials, it could mean that older patients receiving cataract surgery would enjoy better distance and reading vision.