Over 50% of people aged 65 and older have a cataract in one or both eyes. As the cataract progresses, vision deteriorates, leading to a decreased quality of life.
Fortunately, cataract surgery can easily treat this condition. This common surgery has a high success rate, with over 95% of all cataract surgeries free of even mild complications.
What Are Cataracts?
Cataract is a disease of the eye that results in the clouding of the lens of the eyeball. Cataracts prevent clear images from appearing on the eye’s retina; causing mild, moderate, even severe blurred vision.
Cataract surgery is the removal of the natural lens of the eye (also called “crystalline lens”) that has become cloudy, which is referred to as a cataract. Changes of the crystalline lens fibers over time lead to the development of the cataract and loss of transparency, causing impairment or loss of vision.
During cataract surgery, the surgeon will remove your clouded lens. At Regional Eye Center, we use the newest technique of using ultrasound (called Phaco-emulsification) which requires a very small incision. Most of the time, stitches are not even required!
What Causes Cataracts?
Typically an eye disorder associated with aging (over half of the people in America over age 80 have either had a cataract or cataract surgery), cataracts generally occur later in life as the lens structure within the human eye changes and gets older.
There are instances of congenital cataracts, present at birth. Further, secondary or traumatic cataracts can occur at any age as a result of eye injury, surgery, or disease.
Certain medical, genetic, and behavioral risk factors can also accelerate its development, such as diabetes, a family history of cataracts, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
When To Consider Cataract Surgery?
Cataracts don’t suddenly develop overnight. They generally start off small and only begin to noticeably affect your vision as they grow. You should consider getting cataract surgery once the condition begins to seriously impair your vision and adversely affects your daily life, impacting your ability to:
- Play golf or tennis
- Watch TV
- Recognize faces
Surgery should also be considered if it’s preventing the treatment of another eye problem, such as glaucoma. The good news is that cataract surgery successfully restores vision in the vast majority of cases.
Following surgical removal of the natural lens, an artificial intraocular lens implant (IOL) is inserted (eye surgeons say that the lens is “implanted”).
This IOL replaces your natural lens that had become cloudy. New IOLs are being developed all the time to make the surgery less complicated for surgeons and the lenses more helpful to patients.
At Regional Eye Center, Dr. Tu uses the newest implants (called accommodating IOLs) which allow you to see both at distance (for driving) and near (for reading).
This will greatly decrease your need for glasses (even reading glasses). Not everyone can qualify for this new implant; so, please ask your eye doctors about the new Crystalens.
Are You Considering Cataract Surgery?
If you need cataracts removed from both eyes, surgery usually will be done on only one eye at a time. An uncomplicated surgical procedure lasts only about 20 minutes. However, you may be in the outpatient facility for 90 minutes or longer because extra time will be needed for preparation and recovery.
Cataract surgery is generally performed in an ambulatory (rather than inpatient) setting, in a surgical center or hospital, using local anesthesia (either topical, peribulbar, or retrobulbar), usually causing little or no discomfort to the patient. Well over 90% of operations are successful in restoring useful vision, with a low complication rate. Day care, high volume, minimally invasive, small incision phacoemulsification with quick post-op recovery has become the standard of care in cataract surgery all over the world.