Understanding Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the most common causes of correctable vision loss today. Cataract surgery has changed dramatically over the last 20 years and for the first time, patients have access to a customized laser treatment for cataracts, making the experience better for patients and enhancing the accuracy and visual results.

What are the symptoms of a cataract? 

Our eye functions much like a camera. The natural lens focuses images onto the back of the eye so we can see clearly, much like the lens of a camera focuses images onto film for a clear picture. At birth, our natural lens is clear, but as we age it yellows, hardens, and may become cloudy. This condition is called a cataract, and is usually a result of the natural aging process. As the lens becomes cloudier, vision becomes more blurred. 

Symptoms that may indicate the presence of a cataract include a gradual dulling of colors, halos around lights, glare when driving, difficulty reading in low light, blurred vision, and a frequent need to change your glasses prescription. A cataract can progress until eventually there is nearly complete loss of vision in your eye. Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed and should be considered when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with your daily activities. 

Surgery is performed in a fully-accredited outpatient surgery center. Patients need not expect to stay at the surgery center for more than a couple of hours. Prior to surgery, patients are given a relaxant to enhance calmness. Patients do not have to remain under anesthesia and should neither see nor feel any part of the surgery. Through a micro-incision, the cataract is dissolved and removed from the eye using ultrasound technology. The cataract is then replaced with a foldable lens implant through the original micro-incision. The incision is self-healing and heals without stitches.

Since no eye patch is used, the eye can be used for vision immediately after surgery. Because the pupil will still be dilated after surgery, your eyesight may be somewhat blurry but will gradually improve over the next few days. After a short stay in the outpatient recovery area, you will be ready to go home. You are required to have someone drive you home and you should plan to have a responsible adult remain with you for a few hours following surgery.

For patients with both glaucoma and cataracts, iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass stent is a new, FDA-approved surgical therapy that can significantly reduce eye pressure to help prevent vision loss. The iStent is placed in the eye during cataract surgery for the reduction of intraocular pressure (IOP) in adult patients with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma. 

Cataract

Traditional cataract surgery is one of the most routinely performed surgeries in the United States. It has a very safe and effective outcome when performed by a skilled surgeon.