Cataracts affect millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans age 60 and older. A cataract is the clouding of the eye's natural lens. Cloudiness develops as a result of a buildup of protein in the lens. Cataracts can occur in either one eye or both eyes. If left untreated, cataracts will worsen over time and may lead to progressive but reversible visual loss.
Causes of Cataracts
The lens within the eye clouds naturally as we age, causing a gradual reduction of vision. There are numerous other causes of cataracts, including:
- Alcohol use
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light
- Family history of cataracts
- Exposure to radiation
- A result of eye surgery
Diagnosis of Cataracts
A series of test are performed to diagnose a cataract and to evaluate if you are a candidate for cataract surgery. Some of these might include:
- Ultrasound Biometry
- Corneal Topography
- Optical Coherence Tomography of the Macula
- Dilated direct retinal examination
- Visual Acuity testing
Symptoms of Cataracts
Patients with cataracts often do not experience any symptoms when the condition first develops. Cataracts will continue to progress with no apparent pain, although patients may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Double vision
- Colors that appear to be faded
- Poor vision in bright light
- Seeing halos around lights
- Poor night time vision
- Yellowish tinged vision
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions
Treatment of Cataracts
Early cataracts can sometimes be treated with non-surgical methods such as:
- New eyeglass prescription
- Anti-glare sunglasses
- Magnifying lenses
- Installing lighting that is brighter
If the cataracts begin to interfere with reading ability, work or other daily activities, cataract surgery may be recommended. If cataracts are in both eyes, surgery will be performed on one eye at a time, frequently two weeks apart. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States.
Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves numbing the eyes with anesthesia and then making a tiny incision into which an ultrasonic probe is inserted. The probe breaks up, or emulsifies, the cloudy lens into tiny pieces and then suctions them out of the eye. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, a new artificial lens is implanted into the eye. This lens is known as an intraocular lens (IOL), and can often be inserted through the same incision that the old lens was removed from.
Surgery usually takes only a few minutes to perform and is painless for most patients. After the procedure, a patch may be placed over the eye and you will be asked to rest for a while. Patients can return home the very same day, but will need someone to drive them home. For the next few days, you may experience itching, mild discomfort, fluid discharge and sensitivity to light and touch. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops to help the healing process and to reduce the risk of infection.
There are several different IOLs available to help each patient achieve the best possible results from his/her cataract surgery. Multifocal IOLs allow for full vision correction at near, intermediate and far distances, decreasing dependency on eyeglasses or contact lenses in most patients. Some IOLs can also correct astigmatism.
These choices were not always available for cataract patients. In the past, cataract surgery only involved monofocal lenses, which could only focus on objects near or far, but could not adjust to accommodate varying distances. Those patients still had to rely on glasses or contact lenses after surgery in order to see clearly at all distances, especially in older patients suffering from presbyopia.
Our board certified physicians perform over 1,000 cataract surgeries per year, using state-of-the-art technology and modern equipment. Our surgical facility will do everything possible to ensure you have a comfortable experience on the day of your surgery. Please ask us how we may help you.
Laser-assisted Cataract Surgery
Laser-assisted cataract surgery offers the highest level of precision available today for this procedure. All cataract surgery is performed to remove the cloudy lens from the patient's eye and replace it with an intraocular lens to restore vision. But laser-assisted cataract surgery with the femtosecond laser takes the level of customization much further than traditional cataract procedures. It is the only laser system created specifically for the surgical treatment of cataracts.
Instead of just measuring and mapping the eye, laser-assisted cataract surgery offers advanced optical coherence tomography to obtain much more detailed, high resolution images of the eye. Prior to the surgery, the doctor will take all of the information provided by these images to design a very specific, personalized surgical plan for that patient's unique eyes. The laser system additionally features state-of-the-art image guidance technology that recognizes the various surfaces of the eye and generates safety zones that help the physician determine the optimal location for an incision and target the treatment area precisely.