Cataracts are a common condition that causes a clouding of the eye's natural lens. This condition affects millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 60.
Most cataracts are the result of aging, although other risk factors include diabetes, a family history of cataracts, certain medications, smoking and prior eye surgery. They cannot be prevented from forming, but early detection through regular eye exams can help maintain the clearest vision possible.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts cause slowly worsening painless loss of vision. Symptoms include:
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Night vision difficulties including glare and haloes from oncoming headlights
- Poor vision in bright light
- A “film” over the eye
- Significant and frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
- Worsening color sense (white looks beige; reds are washed out)
Our doctors perform a complete eye exam to diagnose cataracts. These tests also look for other causes of visual disturbance, such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration.
Treatment of Cataracts
In the early stages of cataract development, new eyeglasses may be all that are required. Cataract surgery is indicated when vision loss becomes significant, affecting one’s activities. For example, many people stop driving at night because of glare and halos.
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States, with over 3 million performed annually. Success rates are over 99% with minimal risk of complications.
Once you have made your decision, our staff will guide you through the steps to schedule your procedure.
You can expect to be in the ambulatory surgery center for about 2 hours. The procedure itself takes about 10-15 minutes. Patients have no pain after surgery and can resume their usual activities within a few days. Medications in eye drop form are used for several weeks after surgery.
You will be seen several times after surgery beginning the day following the procedure. People heal at different rates with a return to excellent vision ranging from a few days to about a month.
Benefits of Cataract Surgery
The benefits of cataract surgery will greatly enhance your quality of life.
- Improved quality of vision in night driving, reading and other common activities
- Greater sense of self-confidence and independence, even in individuals suffering from dementia and severe hearing loss
- Greater safety from a reduction in the likelihood of serious falls and improved driving ability
- Less need for eyeglasses
Custom Cataract Surgery
All patients undergoing cataract surgery receive an intraocular lens implant (IOL) during surgery. Basic (monofocal) implants correct for nearsightedness and farsightedness allowing the patient to achieve good distance vision without glasses, e.g. driving, watching TV. Patients receiving a basic IOL still require glasses to read and use a computer. These implants do not correct astigmatism.
About 20 percent of cataract surgery patients also suffer from astigmatism - poor vision due to irregularly shaped corneas. In the past, patients with astigmatism would need eyeglasses or contact lenses even after cataract surgery to correct this problem. Toric implants are specially designed to correct astigmatism along with overall vision during cataract surgery. This solution provides excellent distance vision correction without glasses. Approximately 95 percent of patients who receive a toric IOL implant are able to drive and watch television without the need for glasses.