What is a cataract?
A cataract is a slow, progressive clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Your natural lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light. The cataract interferes with light passing through the eye to the retina. Cataracts are caused by a change in the proteins of the eye, which causes clouding or discoloration of the lens. Cataract development of your natural lens is often related to the aging process but can also be caused by other environmental or genetic conditions. Over time, cataracts typically result in blurred or fuzzy vision and sensitivity to light.
People with progressed cataracts often describe the sensation as looking through a piece of wax paper. A cataract may make light from the sun or a lamp seem too bright, causing glare. Colors may not appear as bright as they once did, however, most cataracts develop so slowly that people usually don’t realize that their color vision has markedly deteriorated. Oncoming headlights may cause uncomfortable glare at night, making driving more difficult.
There is a myth that cataracts have to “ripen” before they can be removed. This was true before about 1930, when the surgical technique to remove cataracts was quite primitive and the surgical outcome was essentially awful, even in uncomplicated cases. Patients essentially had to be blind from their cataract before surgery, so they could appreciate the poor vision that their very thick glasses provided afterward. These days, when the average cataract patient usually sees better after surgery than his/her peers who may have minimal cataract, we wait until the patient finds that the cataract is interfering in his/her lifestyle. Patients have cataract surgery because they are having difficulty seeing the golf ball or reading the financial pages, or they have difficulty driving at night. The most common response on the day after surgery is, “When can I have the other eye done?” followed by “Why did I wait so long?”
Causes of Cataracts
- Getting older – age is a major cause of developing cataracts.
- Birth defect like abnormal conditions in the eyes of unborn babies
- Environmental factors such as disease, toxic chemicals, medications
- Accidents or injuries
- Exposure to ultraviolet light
- Cigarette smoking
- Need more light to read.
- Frustration from bright lights
- Night driving problems
- Increased eyestrain
- Double Vision
- Cloudy, fuzzy and blurry vision
- Colors seem faded or yellowish
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
The process of cataract surgery is known as phacoemulsification. Eye drops are first placed into the eye to initiate dilation. Following proper dilation of the pupil and preparation of the surgical area a few more drops of topical anesthetic are administered to the surface of the eye. Next, an incision is then created at the junction of the cornea. The cataract material is then removed using an ultrasonic needle device. The ultrasonic equipment actually pulverizes the cataract and the cataract is vacuumed from the lens capsule. Once all of the cataract material has been removed, a folded intraocular lens whose design and power is specifically chosen to suit your individual needs is then inserted through the original incision, maneuvered into the lens capsule and then centered. After the operation a patch may be positioned over your eye to prevent the bumping or rubbing of your eyes. Recovery time from cataract surgery is generally very quick, with most patients achieving noticeably better vision within the first 24 hours of the procedure. Our procedure methodology may vary slightly from case to case.
You will need someone to drive you home after the cataract surgery so please make the proper arrangements prior to your surgery. If you have any questions regarding this surgery or the special arrangements you will need to make please feel free to discuss this with any of our qualified staff.
Choosing The Right Lens
Until recently cataract patients received monofocal lens implants that had only a single power. This meant you had a choice of correction for either far or near vision. If you suffer from presbyopia like many people over the age 50 this would mean that you still need glasses for either reading or for distance vision. The FDA has now approved several premium lens implants for use by certified ophthalmologists. The premium IOL lens can increase your chances for a life free of dependence on glasses or contacts after cataract surgery for near, far, and intermediate vision. If you have worn glasses for a very long time this might be an opportunity for you to eliminate this hassle from your life.