Similar to your experience, I didn't hear about the other dangers of high myopia until very late in the game. In my case it was by accident when I had an apparent retinal bleed that caused sudden symptoms. In your case, it was the cataracts. Now at least we both know we need special care with future eye surgery decisions.
FYI almost every ophthalmologist I've seen has recommended waiting to have cataract surgery until my vision is very poor (due to the risks). I assume you're at that point now, or will be soon? It is a good idea to start your research since it may take a while to find the right cataract surgeon for your case.
You are right that I've posted before about the use of femtosecond lasers in cataract surgery and their benefit in patients with high myopia.
Here are two of the recent threads where this was discussed; not sure if these are the ones you remembered:
The biggest benefit appears to be less ultrasound energy dispersed within the eye. The laser-assisted method still uses an ultrasound probe for part of the procedure, but the laser is used to break up the cataract itself. Less energy discharged inside the eye is thought to be less likely to lead to retina detachment after surgery. Of course, that possibility is still there just because of the manipulation of the eye during the procedure.
It's still possible to have 'traditional' surgery as a high myope and get excellent results. A user in MedHelp (not in Oregon, unfortunately) was also a -20 or higher and recently had traditional cataract surgery and did great. .
A few ideas of where to locate a good surgeon doing the laser-assisted procedure: (1) ask an ophthalmologist who is a retina specialist, (2) call the Casey Eye Institute at the Oregon Health Sciences University and see if they have any laser-assisted cataract surgeons to recommend, or (3) use www.geteyesmart.com to find a list of cataract/IOL specialists in your area, then use the Internet to review the doctors' credentials, experience and any specific training or equipment.
Lastly, are you in the Portland area or elsewhere in OR? Someone may see your location and have a specific referral for you, if you post your general location here.
FYI the cataract surgeon I've been referred to is a LASIK specialist who also does laser-assisted cataract procedures (I'm not having it done soon, I had just visited him for a consultation). Whoever you use, be sure the doctor has already done numerous laser-assisted cataract procedures, as research has shown that doctors with more experience in this specific procedure average better results.
The benefit of more precise IOL placement that's afforded by the laser-based procedure doesn't help high myopes who almost always have a monofocal IOL(which is less dependent on accurate placement). But since you already have a delicate retina I think you're smart to be investigating the laser alternative in case it works out for you.
In any event, find a very experienced cataract surgeon who has previously operated on high myopes. There some other techniques during surgery that can help reduce stress on the retina and you want someone who is going to treat your eyes and your retinas with extreme care.
Lastly, with regard to the posterior pole buckle surgery, I did not have it as yet. I'm still considering it although I've consulted with several other ophthalmologists, none of whom recommended it. Not knowing how bad and how quickly my vision will deteriorate, it's a difficult decision. Good luck!