Cataracts are a condition, not a disease that results when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Unlike what many think, it is not a growth of skin or film over the eye. The position and density of the cloudy area in the lens determines the amount of vision impaired and the varying effects on the quality of vision. Cataracts often make vision blurry, seem out of focus, or create halos around lights. In particular, cataracts can make seeing at night very difficult.
Most cataracts form as a normal part of the natural aging process and are present in half of adults over age 65. Other causes of cataracts include trauma, certain drugs or diseases such as diabetes. To a lesser degree, some babies are born with cataracts or develop them soon after birth, but this is rare.
The natural crystalline lens in the eye is made mostly of water and protein. A cataract is when some of this protein clumps together, causing the natural lens in the eye to become discolored and cloudy.
Eventually everyone will develop cataracts, unless they already have had Clear Lens Replacement in the past.
The development of cataracts is usually a very slow process. In its early stages, eyeglasses and contact lenses are effective in relieving visual issues, however, as time goes on and the cataract worsens, the only way of restoring vision is with cataract surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy natural lens in the eye and replacing it with a new artificial lens, called an Intraocular Lens Implant or IOL.
Cloudy or Blurry Vision: Vision, in general, starts to blur, but it is especially noticeable when driving or watching TV from a normal distance.
Light and Glare Sensitivity: Many people find it difficult to drive towards the sun. They also find it harder to see golf balls against a bright sky, even though vision may seem acceptable under other circumstances.
Trouble Seeing At Night: Because a cataract allows less light through the lens, it may become more bothersome in low light conditions, especially when trying to drive at night.
The only way to treat a cataract is to remove the cloudy lens (called a cataract) and replace it with a clear artificial Intraocular Lens Implants (called an IOL). Restoration of vision is accomplished every day through the miracle of cataract surgery. In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most often performed surgeries today. It is considered to be one of the safest and most successful surgeries performed in the US.
Using the advanced technology of the Centurion® Vision System and Alcon LenSx Laser, we are able to safely and gently remove the cataract. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and under local anesthesia. The actual surgery takes less than 20 minutes, although you will be here longer for pre-op and post-op care. You usually see a doctor the next day after surgery just to make sure that all is well.
“Patients are thrilled to have their vision restored in such a fast, safe, and pain-free manner. They are usually able to resume most normal activities within hours, and frequently have better vision than they had before they developed cataracts. And now that we have High Tech IOLs, many people that have worn glasses their entire life, no longer need to wear glasses for near or distance or intermediate vision. It is amazing technology!” explains cataract specialist, Dr. Cathleen McCabe.
If you think you might need cataract surgery, the first step is to have a comprehensive eye examination. Your doctor will be able to determine if a cataract is the cause of your decreased vision. If it is, and if it is inhibiting your quality of life and the activities that bring you joy, then our surgeons can help you determine which cataract surgery option is best for your eyes and lifestyle.
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There are no eyes like yours, and there is no cataract procedure like customized laser cataract surgery for your eyes. The Eye Associates is pleased to offer Bladeless Laser Cataract Surgery with Alcon’s LenSx® laser. The LenSx laser brings a new level of customization to cataract surgery, by adding computer control to key steps of the procedure. The LenSx laser is unquestionably the most technologically advanced option for cataract patients. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for this new technology.
At The Eye Associates, our surgeons perform a technique known as “no-stitch” cataract surgery. By making a tiny, tunnel incision into the eye to remove the cataract, the eye’s own pressure seals the small incision so stitches become unnecessary, and the healing process is quicker.
It is no longer necessary to use needle injections to numb the eye for cataract surgery. Today topical anesthesia with eye drops can be used to anesthetize your eye. Dr. Robert Friedman explains, “An advantage of topical anesthesia is that you are able to see immediately after cataract surgery, without waiting for the injection anesthesia to wear off.”
If you have had astigmatism all your life and the blurry vision that comes with it, cataract surgery is the time to get rid of it. Using several different methods during cataract surgery, astigmatism can be easily corrected. Some people are candidates for the high tech lens implants, the AcrySof IQ Toric IOL, TECNIS Toric, TECNIS Symfony Toric or the Trulign Toric IOL to correct their astigmatism. Another option for low to moderate amounts of astigmatism is with limbal relaxing incisions (LRI). Incisions are made with the LenSx laser, in the cornea to flatten and thereby correct the astigmatism. Ask your surgeon if your astigmatism can be corrected at the time of surgery.
Removing a cataract may provide a good opportunity to perform a glaucoma related surgery at the same time. Procedures such as the traditional trabeculectomy glaucoma surgery, cataract surgery combined with endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation (ECP), and the newer micro-invasive devices such as the Istent, can be performed during cataract surgery and can be instrumental in lowering and sometimes even eliminating the amount and expense of the daily glaucoma drops.
Once you have cataract surgery, you cannot change your mind to upgrade to a High Tech IOL. That is why it is so important to really think about this decision ahead of time. At The Eye Associates, we strive to answer all your questions and help you through this decision process. We understand that your lifetime of good vision depends on it.
The first step to find out if you need cataract surgery is a comprehensive eye exam with one of our Board Certified Physicians at The Eye Associates.