A cataract forms with the clouding of the ocular lens and this typically leads to vision loss over time. Cataracts can occur at any age during a person’s life, but it is most common among people over the age of 65. Our surgeons use the no stitch, no patch, no shot method of cataract removal. Following proper dilation of the pupil and preparation of the surgical area, a topical anesthetic is administered to the surface of the eye. A small incision is then created at the junction of the cornea (the clear domed structure on the front of the eye) and the sclera (the white part of the eye).
The front part of the lens envelope, the lens capsule, is carefully opened so that the lens material can be removed. An ultrasonic probe breaks up and removes the hardened and yellowed lens material. This process, known as phacoemulsification, is the most modern method of cataract removal.
Once the entire cataract has been removed, a folded intraocular lens (IOL) chosen by the surgeon for your individual needs is inserted through the original incision and centered in the lens capsule. The lens cannot be felt or sensed in any way by the patient.
Recovery from surgery is rapid, with most patients achieving noticeably better vision within the first 24 hours. Patients will use an antibiotic drop and a steroid drop several times daily for the first few weeks after surgery. Patients should refrain from eye rubbing during the first few weeks after surgery and a clear patch will be worn over the eye during sleep for the first week.
Recent breakthroughs have created exciting new possibilities for cataract surgery patients, as they now have a choice of premium lens options that can result in superior vision after surgery.
- A traditional monofocal intraocular lens (IOL) will provide clear vision for either close-up vision or distance vision, but not both. Typically, a patient’s post-operative vision is optimized for distance, so the patient will still require eyeglasses to read.
- A toric IOL can help an individual with astigmatism see clearly at distance without glasses, unlike a traditional IOL, but the patient will still require eyeglasses to read.
- Presbyopia is the loss of accommodation over time. Accommodation is the eye’s natural ability to bring near objects into focus. It is the reason reading glasses become necessary, typically in the mid 40s, even for people who have excellent unaided distance vision. When the natural lens of the eye is removed in cataract surgery or in refractive lens exchange, the eye’s natural ability to accommodate is eliminated completely. Until recently, the IOL implanted during cataract surgery corrected only distance vision, so reading glasses were still required after surgery. Patients now have the option to have a multifocal lens implanted that can correct for both distance and other ranges such as near or intermediate. There are some additional out-of-pocket costs to patients for this new refractive technology.
- A presbyopia correcting IOL will provide a full range of vision from close up to far away and all distances in between, thus eliminating or significantly reducing one’s dependency on glasses following cataract surgery.