What is a cataract?
When you are born your natural lens inside of your eye is clear. As you get older a cataract forms, the natural lens begins to ‘cloud’, which is also known as an opacification. While some environmental factors can cause cataracts, traditionally it is the normal aging process that causes changes in the lens, which cause it to become cloudy.
Left untreated, a cataract can become so dense that it causes blindness. In fact, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. The original meaning of cataract is ‘waterfall’ and the name was chosen because distorted vision caused by a cataract reminded people of the distorted view is obtained when looking through a waterfall.
Who gets cataracts?
Eventually everyone develops cataracts. They usually do not appear prior to 60 years of age, though there are cases of congenital cataracts (see below). Among the major conditions related to cataracts are diabetes or injury to the eye. Medications such as steroids can also cause cataract formation.
In rare cases, congenital cataracts are present at birth. These cataracts are usually related to the mother having German measles, chickenpox, or other infectious diseases during pregnancy or to the child having certain syndromes (e.g. Marfan’s). Some cataracts are inherited.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
Typical Symptoms can include:
- Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy, or filmy vision
- Changes in the perception of colors
- Problems driving at night because headlights seem too bright
- Problems with glare from lamps or the sun
- Frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription
- Double vision
These symptoms can also be signs of other eye problems. If you have any of them, consult us here at Atlantis Eyecare for an eye examination.
When should I decide to have cataract surgery?
Most people have plenty of time to decide about cataract surgery. Your doctor cannot make the decision for you, but talking with your doctor can help you decide.
Tell your doctor how your cataract affects your vision and your life. Read the statements below, see which ones apply to you, and tell your doctor if:
- I need to drive, but there is too much glare from the sun or headlights
- I do not see well enough to do my best at work
- I do not see well enough to do the things I need to do at home
- I do not see well enough to do things I like to do (for example, read, watch TV, sew, hike, play cards, and go out with friends)
- I am afraid I will bump into something or fall
- Because of my cataract, I am not as independent as I would like to be
- I cannot see well enough with my glasses
- My eyesight bothers me a lot
You may have other specific problems you want to discuss with your eye doctor
How can cataracts be treated?
The natural lens of the eye that has been damaged by a cataract is surgically removed and then replaced with a clear artificial lens. During the cataract removal surgery, usually done on an outpatient basis, a tiny incision is made in the eye and the cataract-damaged natural lens is removed through the incision. An artificial lens is then inserted through the same incision. Most patients have significantly improved vision after the procedure.
What are the benefits of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery restores quality vision for millions of patients each year. Good vision is vital to an enjoyable lifestyle. Numerous research studies show that cataract surgery restores quality-of-life functions including reading, working, moving around, hobbies, safety, self-confidence, independence, daytime and nighttime driving, community and social activities, mental health, and overall life satisfaction.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is performed millions of times every year in the United States. In fact, it is the most commonly performed surgery in the U.S. About 98 percent of patients have a complication-free experience that results in improved vision. Nevertheless, cataract surgery has risks and complications. Most complications resolve in a matter of days to months. In rare cases, patients lose some degree of vision permanently as a result of the surgery.
Is it still necessary to wear thick glasses after cataract surgery?
No. Today, cataract patients who have artificial or intraocular lenses (IOLs) implanted during surgery, may only need reading glasses for close vision. Patients who do not receive IOLs wear contact lenses for distance vision and reading glasses for close vision. Some patients choose to wear multifocal contact lenses for all distances.
Are there options if I do not want to wear glasses or contacts after surgery?
Yes. “Premium lenses” such as the Tecnis® multifocal lens and Crystalens® accommodating lens are FDA approved to significantly decrease or eliminate the need for reading glasses or multifocal contacts after surgery. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate.
How successful is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery has an overall success rate of 98 percent. Continuous innovations in techniques and instruments allow cataract surgeons to treat more patients while keeping costs down and improving quality of patient care.
- Cataract Consultation – schedule your surgery dates
- A-Scan appointment
- Surgery (1 eye at a time)
- Post operative appointment (Day 1)
- Post operative appointment (Week 1)
- Post Operative appointment (Month 1)
- Post Operative appointment (Month 3)
- Post Operative appointment (Month 6)
* Optimal vision at 6 months
* Post operative appointments done by co-managing doctor (not surgeon)
What is an A-Scan Appointment for?
An A-Scan machine is an ultrasound device for diagnostic testing in ophthalmology practices. The A-Scan appointment determines eye length and shape of your eye before cataract surgery. These measurements helps your calculate and choose the best intra-ocular lens power for your lens.
Do I have to remove contact lenses?
Yes. Soft contact lenses (1) one week prior to A-scan appointment. Hard contacts 3 weeks prior to A-scan appointment.
Will I still have to pay co-pays?
Yes. Regardless if you choose the standard or premium lens you are still responsible for your insurance co-pay at every visit. Please be aware your insurance also has a surgery co-pay in which will be collected at the surgery center.
Does the procedure hurt?
No, it is a painless procedure. Local Anesthetic is used along with numbing drops.
When can I shower/work/play?
You can resume normal activities the following day. However, avoid direct water in the eyes and avoid heavy lifting over 20 lbs.
Should I stop blood thinners/other medications?
In general, No. You will be notified if change is required
Post Operative Glasses
Most insurances will have a post operative glasses benefit for you to use. Our office will let you know your glasses benefit at your post operative visit.