A cataract is an opacity that clouds the natural lens inside the eye. Normally the path of light to the retina (where the light sensors are) is as clear as possible. When proteins that make up the lens clump together, the resulting cataract blocks some of the light, making vision blurry or hazy.
Cataracts typically occur more frequently in the aging population, however there are many other factors such as family history, diabetes, long term UV exposure, or certain medications like steroids that can cause cataracts. Also, previous eye injuries can be an attributing factor.
Cataract symptoms may include:
Lights seem too bright or have a “halo” effect.
Double vision in one eye.
Decreased night vision – sensitivity to glare from headlights.
Dull or fading colors.
Some people actually experience an improvement in their near vision during the beginning stages of a cataract. Unfortunately, this effect goes away as the disease progresses. Early on, a cataract may be treated with increased glasses or contact prescription. Once the cataract begins to interfere with daily tasks such as reading and driving, surgery is the only remaining option.
Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, and complications (if any) are rare and treatable. The surgery itself is highly successful in improving the vision of patients. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure usually taking less than 15 minutes to complete.
During the surgery, the doctor removes the cloudy natural lens from the eye while the patient is under a topical anesthesia. Next, the doctor inserts an intraocular lens (IOL), which remains permanently in place of the removed natural lens. The IOL compensates for the magnification the old lens provided. Modern IOLs are designed for various functions and made out of different materials; your doctor will know which is most appropriate for your individual case. After the operation the doctor will apply a shield for the eye and provide you with eye drops to use as directed.
There are several available options for the intraocular lens (IOL) which is placed at the time of cataract surgery. A monofocal lens is a lens which provides exceptional distance vision for activities such as driving and watching television. Typically, reading glasses are used for near vision activities such as computer and reading. A toric intraocular lens corrects for any astigmatism which you may have prior to cataract surgery. At the time of the cataract procedure, the toric lens is placed in the correct position so that it compensates and corrects any naturally occurring astigmatism. Distance vision becomes clear and crisp and the need for distance vision glasses is greatly reduced or eliminated. A multifocal lens corrects both near and far vision. The multifocal lens achieves this by having different zones built into the lens for distance and near activities.
The monofocal lens is fully covered by your insurance carrier for placement at the time of cataract surgery. The toric and multifocal intraocular lenses require out of pocket payment to cover the additional cost of these new technology IOLs. Dr. Cherry is a specialist in refractive cataract surgery and will be happy to discuss your intraocular lens options at the time of your cataract consultation.
Recovery from Cataract Surgery
The patient may return home the day of the procedure. With proper rest and avoidance of any strenuous activities such as heavy lifting, recovery is usually a matter of days, with only minor discomfort. Several follow up appointments will be required to ensure the eye is healing properly and initial results are sustained.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of cataract problems, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation.