A cataract typically manifests as a cloudy structure on the eye that reduces the amount of light that can pass through to the retina.
Cataracts are some of the most common vision conditions affecting older Americans, and they can even occur in younger patients. Characterized by a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, cataracts lead to the loss of near vision (presbyopia) and the need for bifocals or reading glasses. Since cataracts are progressive conditions, they can ultimately lead to a significant loss of vision – and even blindness – if left untreated. There has been a rapid evolution in cataract treatment over the past few years, which has brought about state-of-the-art procedures designed to eliminate cataracts and improve vision without the need for extensive recovery periods. At New Eyes, our cataract surgeons perform the technique for cataract removal called phacoemulsification, or small incision cataract surgery. We also offer advanced SMART Cataract Surgery and a range of intraocular lens options.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract typically manifests as a cloudy structure on the eye that reduces the amount of light that can pass through to the retina. Millions of people are affected by cataracts. In fact, it has been estimated that more than half of all Americans will have a cataract or will have already had cataract surgery by the time they are 80 years of age. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness throughout the world. With regular eye exams and early treatment, cataracts can often be successfully removed and threats to one’s vision significantly reduced.
Causes of Cataracts
While cataracts typically develop as a result of the natural process of aging, they can also be linked to an injury to the eye, some types of diseases (including diabetes), smoking, excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays, and even certain medications. Cataracts ultimately cause the eye’s natural lens to become cloudy, impairing its ability to properly focus light.
Symptoms of Cataracts
- Blurry, cloudy, and/or dulled vision
- Sensitivity to light
- A “halo” effect surrounding lights
- “Ghost” images
- Color distortion – a fading or yellowing effect on objects
- The frequent need to change prescriptions for glasses or contacts
- Difficulty seeing at night
- The need for additional lighting in order to see clearly while reading or participating in other activities
- Progressive and significant loss of vision
Cataract Surgery FAQs
The information provided below helps to answer to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding cataract surgery. We welcome you to contact us if there are additional questions you would like answered. And we encourage you to schedule an eye examination and meet with one of our experienced eye surgeons to talk more about your particular eye issues and customize your options. Call New Eyes today!
Am I too old for cataract surgery?
With the many advances that have been made in the field of cataract surgery, patients who have even reached the 100-year mark can have successful cataract procedures! Depending on the individual patient’s overall health and unique needs, there is generally no age limit for cataract surgery.
Will I need to get approval from a regular physician before I can have surgery?
For most healthy adults, it is not necessary to obtain a general medical clearance for cataract surgery. When you come to New Eyes for your initial consultation, one of our eye surgeons will determine whether or not cataract surgery is the best option for your visual needs. Then if your surgeon determines that a medical clearance is necessary before surgery, a member of our team will help to arrange the appropriate visit with your primary medical provider (PCP). If you do not currently have a regular PCP, we can help you find one convenient to where you live.
What about retinal clearance for patients with history of eye diseases or current conditions?
The initial visit with your surgeon is critical in the planning of a successful cataract procedure. A thorough examination is performed to determine the health of the eye and, in particular, the status of the retina which is the tissue in the eye responsible for the sharpness of vision. For patients with a newly discovered retinal problem or patients with a potential issue such as extreme near-sightedness, a clearance from a retinal specialist may be necessary before cataract surgery.
How exactly do you determine which intraocular lens (IOL) will be most beneficial for my needs?
Our eye surgeons utilize laser testing in the office called “IOLMaster” to help predict the most effective IOL for your specific needs. For even more precise measurements important especially in Smart Cataract Surgery procedures, our doctors use Optiwave Refractive Analysis (ORA). ORA is an innovative laser measurement system designed to precisely and accurately measure the eye during the procedure to allow our doctor to predict the best IOL power possible. This is especially necessary in patients who have had previous RK or LASIK.
Learn more about Smart Cataract Surgery and ORA technology.
What are the risks of the procedure?
All surgical procedures carry some degree of risk, and cataract surgery is no exception. Although complications are very rare, some of the potential risks of cataract surgery include bleeding, dilation of the pupil, corneal edema, infection, or retinal problems. It is very important to remember that our eye surgeons are highly skilled and experienced with cataract surgery procedures. They will make every effort to minimize risks involved with the procedure. After thoroughly examining your eyes, our doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of cataract surgery specific to your condition and answer any questions you may have.
Are there alternatives to cataract surgery?
It is rarely an emergency to surgically remove a cataract. Most cataracts progress slowly over the years from sun exposure and simple wear-and-tear on the eye. Glasses and/or contact lenses can be utilized for a long time before surgery is necessary. Annual eye exams from your primary eyecare provider are very important to identify the early development of cataracts. Once a cataract has progressed to the level where it is affecting your normal daily activities despite best correction with glasses, then surgical removal of the cataract is the only way to restore vision.
Will I need to wear eyeglasses following cataract surgery?
With the advances in technology we are now able to provide refractive cataract surgery. In refractive cataract surgery conditions like presbyopia, astigmatism, myopia and hyperopia can be treated at the time of your cataract surgery. Our practice offers a full range of intraocular lens options that are designed to reduce the need for corrective eyewear after cataract surgery based on patient’s individual prior condition and lifestyle needs. While some patients may still require reading glasses following cataract removal in order to see up close objects clearly, others may be able to see better than they have in years at a range of distances depending on needs and lens choice. Our eye surgeon will evaluate your eyes and determine whether you are a candidate for a specialty type of IOL that can minimize your reliance on eyeglasses after surgery.
If you would like more information on cataracts, or if you would like to schedule a consultation and eye evaluation here at our practice, please contact New Eyes today.