A cataract is a common condition that causes a clouding of the eye's natural lens, and affects millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 65. Cloudiness develops as a result of a buildup of protein in the lens.
Cataracts cause a progressive, painless loss of vision. The lens clouds naturally as we age, causing people to see a gradual reduction of vision. The exact cause of cataracts is unknown, although it may be a result of injury, certain medications, illnesses (such as diabetes), prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and smoking.
Your doctor may perform a series of tests in order to diagnose a cataract. A dilated eye exam will be performed to test the vision and to examine the condition of the lens and other parts of the eye.
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:
- Seeing halos around lights
- Poor vision at night
- Poor vision in bright light
- Trouble reading
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Frequent changes in eyeglasses or contact lens prescription
Treatment of Cataracts
If visual impairment begins to interfere with your ability to read, work or do the things you enjoy, you may want to consider cataract surgery to restore your vision. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the US, and can be performed quickly and easily with a success rate of over 90 percent and a minimal risk of complications.
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).
Surgery usually takes only a few minutes to perform and is painless for most patients. 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 will 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.
Intraocular Cataract Lenses (IOLs)
Through advanced lens technology, patients are now offered many choices that can improve their vision and quality of life. These new IOLs are available in many different materials and designs. One design may be great for one person but not another and so it is up to the patient and the doctor to decide which lens and technique is best for the patient’s lifestyle needs. In most cases, patients are less dependent on wearing corrective lenses after surgery.
These monofocal IOLs use state-of-the-art wavefront technology and provide quality visual correction. These lenses also have built in UV protection and blue-blockers. There is no out-of-pocket charge for these lenses as they are covered by your insurance. Your options with these lenses are:
With this option, both eyes are set to focus in the distance. Patients that chose this option will see great in the distance but will require reading glasses for up-close activities.
The dominant eye is focused in the distance and the non-dominant eye is focused for close. This works well for most patients, however it is a compromise and you may still require glasses for certain activities (i.e. driving at night or reading for prolonged periods).
Astigmatic Lens - Toric IOLs
Toric IOLs are specially designed to correct astigmatism.
Before Toric IOLs, people with astigmatism would need to undergo corneal refractive surgery after their lenses were implanted, or would remain dependent on glasses or contact lenses. The advanced Toric IOLs correct the imbalance caused by an irregular corneal shape in patients with astigmatism. There are several different types of FDA approved Toric IOLs, including AcrySof® Toric Lenses, which can correct up to 6 diopters of astigmatism.
Toric IOLs are considered safe for most patients with astigmatism. Dr. Miller will indicate if a Toric IOL is right for you.
Multifocal Lens Implants - ReSTOR®
Through recent advancements in lens technology, an IOL is now available that can provide the patient with a greater range of vision while reducing the need for glasses and contacts. The ReSTOR intraocular lens provides a full range of functional vision for patients. However, you may still require glasses for certain activities.