Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery compared with conventional cataract surgery


  • Conflict/competing interest: No stated conflict of interest.
  • Funding sources: No stated funding sources.

Correspondence: Associate Professor Brendan Vote, Launceston Eye Institute, 36 Thistle Street West, Launceston, Tas. 7250, Australia. Email: eye.vote@bigpond.net.au



To investigate the safety and efficacy of the Catalys (Optimedica, Santa Clara, CA, USA) femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery system compared with conventional phacoemulsification cataract extraction.


Prospective, consecutive, parallel cohort study.


The first 200 eyes undergoing conventional cataract surgery to the first 200 eyes undergoing femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery between April and July 2012.


Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery involved anterior capsulotomy and lens fragmentation based on optical coherence tomography-guided treatment mapping. Conventional cataract surgery involved manual continuous curvilinear capsulorhexis. Both procedures were completed by standard phacoemulsification and insertion of an intraocular lens.

Main Outcome Measures

Effective phacoemulsification time and intraoperative complication rates.


Patient demographics were similar between both groups. There was no statistically significant difference in intraoperative complications between femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery and conventional surgery. There was one posterior capsule rupture in both groups (0.5%; not significant). One hundred per cent of cases treated with the femtosecond laser had a complete capsulotomy. Vacuum time decreased with experience. Effective phacoemulsification time was reduced by 70% in the femtosecond group (P < 0.0001). Twenty-six cases in the femtosecond group versus one case in the conventional group had 0 effective phacoemulsification time (P < 0.0001).


Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery appears to be as safe as conventional cataract surgery in the short term and results in significantly lower effective phacoemulsification time. Although it may allow for greater efficiency and decreased postoperative complications, further research is needed into long-term safety aspects such as corneal endothelial cell loss.