Cataract patients now have the option to have their vision corrected to allow them to see at both near and far distances after cataract surgery! These lens implants provide significantly reduced dependence on glasses for all tasks of daily living, providing a range of focus that laser vision correction cannot achieve. Individuals with visual impairment suffering from cataracts previously had only a mono-focal lens implant option after surgery.
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A cataract is a clouding of the normally transparent lens within the eye. Changes may be so gradual that you are not aware of the cataract’s effect at first. Cataracts are the most common cause of blurred vision for people over the age of 50. Although there is no medicine or diet to cure cataracts, surgical removal of the cataract and replacement with a permanent artificial lens implant can restore lost vision.
Cataracts cause visual symptoms only; they do not cause pain, discomfort, tearing, redness, or floaters. The visual symptoms can vary. Blurriness, hazy vision, or increased glare from sunlight and headlights may be present. Some cataracts turn yellow, causing fading of color. Reading may take more effort, and you may tire prematurely. Vision progressively worsens over a period of years or sometimes after only a few months.
The decision to have cataracts removed is elective. As activities such as driving and reading become increasingly affected by cataracts, surgery becomes a logical option to consider.
With the success of the modern implant, waiting for cataracts to “ripen” is no longer necessary. Since cataracts will not improve and will eventually worsen, there is no advantage in delaying treatment if vision is sufficiently affected and the prognosis of surgery is good. You are never “too old” to have cataract surgery, just as you are never “too old” to enjoy better vision.
To take the place of the clouded human lens, a tiny, highly engineered artificial lens is implanted into the eye. This implant is permanent. The “prescription” power of each patient’s implant is selected based on computer calculations that use a series of precise eye measurements performed in the office prior to surgery.
Lasers may be appropriate in some cases. The YAG laser is sometimes employed months to years following cataract surgery for a non-surgical treatment. Although the cataract cannot recur, the capsule behind the implant may later cloud and affect vision. This is not a complication. Thanks to the YAG laser, this can be painlessly corrected in the office without surgery.
There is some risk with any surgical procedure. For each patient, individual risks and benefits are carefully weighed. Fortunately, in experienced hands, severe complications that could worsen the vision are rare. The chances of eyelid, cornea, retina, and ocular pressure problems may depend on individual circumstances, but all may occur even without surgery – i.e. with aging alone. With modern advances in technique, more than 98% of patients with otherwise healthy eyes will gain significant visual improvement following surgery.
The eye is numbed by anesthetic drops. Thanks to light sedation, you will feel calm and relaxed, but awake in a twilight state. Since your lids are gently held open, you will see light, but not the operation itself. This most advanced method eliminates sutures, eye bandages, and postoperative restrictions for most patients. Since the surgery takes less than 30 minutes, even patients in poor health can successfully undergo cataract surgery.
You will receive detailed written instructions on care after the operation. The eye surface may feel scratchy at first. With small incision surgery, you may resume everyday activities and physical exercise as soon as you like.
As with any surgery, the healing period will vary with each individual. Use of the eye is not harmful, but the vision is normally blurry at first. Your eyeglass prescription will be different after surgery and will be changed approximately one month later.
Thanks to the many advances in cataract surgery, we can safely restore excellent vision to most people with cataracts. Two million Americans enjoy the benefits of renewed sight through cataract surgery each year.