HURST — Reading is what 68-year old Jim Shirling loves to do most. So, he said when he developed cataracts, he knew he wanted the latest surgery.
"My left eye was blotched and I was aware that I was losing my sight," he said. "I read in public; I read daily and that was my priority."
More than 400,000 eye surgeries are performed annually, making it the most common ambulatory operation in the country. Traditional cataract surgery involves cutting the cornea with a blade. Now, for the first time in decades there is a breakthrough in cataract surgery.
Shirling was among the first in North Texas to undergo the new blade-free cataract surgery that uses a laser instead of a scalpel. Doctors at Texas Eye and Laser Center in Hurst call it a breakthrough that increases the accuracy of cataract surgery.
"I think it gives better visual outcomes," said Dr. Brian Ranelle, an eye surgeon at the clinic. "I think it gives slightly faster visual recovery. People are able to go back to their normal lives quicker. They can drive the day after surgery, just the visual recovery is quicker."
The procedure takes just minutes, but is not covered by Medicare. It can cost several thousand dollars more than a traditional cataract surgery, but is often included in part of a lens implant upgrade.
For Shirling, it was money well spent. He is now glasses-free for the first time since he was 12.
"When I wake up in the morning, I get to see my beautiful wife and I get to read the newspaper with my coffee at the table, and those are two of the best things," he said with a big smile.