Surgeons have been performing same day bilateral (on both eyes) surgery for years. Several large studies have shown that it is as safe as operating on one eye at a time. In fact, the studies show a tendency toward fewer complications with same-day bilateral cataract surgery (SDBCS). I have been performing SDBCS for several years and have become an advocate for the procedure. The main reason? My patients see great sooner and do not have to return for a second operation! There is another benefit of SDBCS: it is easier to “adjust” to the new vision when both eyes heal at the same time. The brain doesn’t have to compare the operated eye to the one that has not been treated, which could cause visual confusion.
So why are so few surgeons performing SDBCS? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, insurers don’t often pay as much (or at all) for the second eye’s procedure when done on the same day; this decreases the incentive for the surgeon to do the case. Second, most doctors were trained in an era when cataract surgery was considered a medical procedure to be performed only when an eye had lost a significant amount of vision. To this day, the majority of ophthalmologists still follow this view, despite the fact that modern cataract surgery can be safely performed at an earlier stage, provides better results, and can permanently eliminate the need for glasses – for both reading and distance vision.
We have entered the era of refractive laser cataract surgery – repurposing the world’s oldest surgical procedure to provide results that now rival those of LASIK. Bilateral same-day cataract surgery is both a safe and effective means to allow patients to return to their normal routines with amazing vision!