PurposeTo report our experience of using Aqualase technology for cataract extraction.MethodsIn total, 33 patients (20 females; mean age 71.4 years) underwent cataract surgery using Aqualase through a 3.2-mm corneal incision. Grade of nucleus, nuclear removal technique, and intraoperative complications were noted. Clinical parameters from postoperative visits were collected.ResultsAqualase is capable of removing cataracts up to nuclear sclerosis 2+ (out of 4) with relative ease. Nuclei graded 2+ or greater were technically more difficult and conversion to ultrasound phacoemulsification was required in one case. Two posterior capsule ruptures occurred: one during nucleus removal (contact with the tip while aspirating without Aqualase) and one unrelated to Aqualase during aspiration of cortex. Of 25 patients seen on the first postoperative day, 22 had a clear cornea. A total of 96% patients without preoperative comorbidity achieved 6/9 or better postoperatively. One patient had transient postoperative uveitis.ConclusionsRemoval of softer cataracts with Aqualase has the theoretical advantage over phacoemulsification, by carrying less risk to the posterior capsule, since the handpiece has a smooth polymer tip that has no mechanical motion inside the eye. However, the tip should not be considered entirely capsule-friendly, as rupture is possible with the foot-pedal in position two (aspiration only). Although certain adjustments to the technique are required, the method is similar enough to phacoemulsification to ensure a brief learning curve. With increasingly firm cataracts, Aqualase becomes less effective and ultrasound phacoemulsification is still superior for such cases, in our experience.
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