A cataract is a condition that develops in the lens of the eye. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people and are detected through a Comprehensive Eye Exam performed by Dr. Madison.
What Are Cataracts?
Your eye works like a camera, with a clear lens that focuses images on the retina at the back of your eye. When the lens becomes cloudy and discolored, causing increasingly blurred vision, it is called a cataract.
Cataract formation is a normal part of aging. While cataracts may develop in both eyes at the same time, they do not spread from one to the other. They are not caused and do not grow worse through overuse of the eyes, but, as a rule, develop gradually over many years. The good news is that cataracts can be successfully treated and good vision can be restored at Eye Centers of Florida.
What Causes A Cataract?
More than half of all Americans age 65 and older have a cataract. The natural aging process is the most common reason for the development of cataracts. Cataracts also can develop following an eye injury such as a blow, puncture, cut or burn, or can be formed in association with certain diseases, such as diabetes.
There may be no obvious symptoms in the early stages of a cataract, but as it worsens, you may experience hazy or blurred vision, double vision or an increased sensitivity to glare. You’ll also notice that switching to stronger eyeglasses will not improve your vision.
Cataracts typically cannot be seen by external examination. Dr. Madison will use a high-powered microscope to determine the type, location and size of the cataract, and an ophthalmologist to view the interior of the eye.
What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
Early signs of cataracts include blurred or cloudy vision; frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions; night glare and hazy vision; and colors that seem to fade. An ophthalmologist must determine if these symptoms are really caused by a cataract or by some other eye problem that may need treatment.
For an adult, a cataract should be removed only when it interferes with lifestyle and makes it difficult to continue normally enjoyable activities. Generally, there is no such thing as a cataract being “ripe” or “not ripe” for removal. What matters is whether or not the problem interferes with vision. In rare instances, a “hyper-mature” cataract may cause elevated eye pressure or inflammation of the eye. In this case, it must be removed immediately. Otherwise, removal of a cataract is at the patient’s discretion.
What Are the Different Types of Cataracts?
- Age-related cataract: Most cataracts are related to aging.
- Congenital cataract: Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may not affect vision. If they do, they may need to be removed.
- Secondary cataract: Cataracts are more likely to develop in people who have certain other health problems, such as diabetes. Also, cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.
- Traumatic cataract: Cataracts can develop soon after an eye injury, or years later.
Diet, exercise or eye drops will not clear up cataracts or prevent their formation. Once a cataract has developed, the only way to restore clear vision is to surgically remove it and replace the cataract with a permanent intraocular lens implant (IOL).
Cataract surgery usually lasts less than one hour and is almost painless. Many people choose to stay awake during surgery and have an anesthetic to numb the nerves in and around the eye. The eye surgeons at Eye Centers of Florida use a technique called phacoemulsification to perform cataract surgery.
This procedure involves making a tiny incision, about 2.5 to 3.5 millimeters in length. A pencil-like instrument, inserted through the opening, is used to emulsify (breakdown into tiny pieces) and aspirate the clouded lens material. Then the IOL is inserted into place.
Research shows that more than one million Americans will have cataract surgery this year. Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States – and the most successful. More than 95 percent of those who have cataract surgery regain vision levels between 20/40 and 20/20. You can expect a high success rate and a minimum of discomfort. And, once a cataract has been removed, it will not come back.
When Is The Right Time For Surgery?
There is no benefit to waiting until your vision is seriously impaired before considering cataract surgery. The sooner the cataract is removed and replaced with a clear, modern lens implant, the sooner you can return to a full enjoyment of life’s riches.
Cataract surgery is an extremely effective, safe and comfortable operation. When your cataract surgery is scheduled, you’ll undergo tests to determine the power of your lens implant. We’ll also discuss financial matters, including insurance and Medicare, and answer any questions you may have.
No field of surgery has experienced as many exciting new developments as the treatment of cataracts. Southwest Florida Opthamoligists has led the way in adopting a series of innovations that make cataract surgery increasingly safe, convenient and virtually painless for our patients.
All of our cataract surgeons that Dr. Madison refers to use the sutureless or "no-stitch" technique. Sutureless cataract surgery reduces discomfort and results in a faster return to health and clear vision. In conjunction with the sutureless method, our surgeons use an innovative technique called phacoemulsification. The procedure is performed under a high-powered microscope and involves placing a tiny, ultrasonic probe in the eye through a very small incision. The probe breaks down and removes the cloudy portion of the lens (the cataract) leaving in place the lens capsule to provide a base for securing the intraocular lens implant.
Cataract microsurgery is performed in a specially equipped surgery centers. Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia, cataract surgery is virtually painless and provides dramatic improvements in vision. Recovery from cataract surgery is swift, with patients able to return to normal activities within a day or two.
Your New Lens
Without a lens in the eye, you could see shapes but they would be blurred and out of focus. The "foldable" intraocular lens implant used by eye surgeons is the best and most natural way to restore clear vision after removal of your cataract. Usually, bifocal glasses are prescribed after surgery to correct for minor problems such as astigmatism. However, several new advancements in ocular lens design may eliminate the need for any kind of eyewear after surgery. A new multifocal lens uses a unique design that provides vision in a range of distances from near to far. A new toric lens corrects astigmatism. Your doctor will discuss these options with you if you are a good candidate for either lens.
Selecting the Right Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implant for your lifestyle:
After the eye’s natural lens is removed during cataract surgery, it is often replaced by an artificial lens, called an Intraocular lens (IOL). The IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of the eye. There are currently several types of implantable contact lenses available to patients undergoing cataract surgery.
The standard monofocal intraocular lens implant will correct a patient’s distant vision or near vision depending on the power of the implant. Most of the time the recommendation is to select an implant that will improve the patient’s distance vision completely so that after the surgery, the patient will only have to wear reading glasses.
Monovision is one possible solution for the problem of aging eyes or Presbyopia that many people begin to experience in their 40s. With monovision, the dominant eye is focused for distance, and the non-dominant eye is focused for near to intermediate vision. Monovision can be achieved with contact lenses, refractive surgery or intraocular lens. To determine if this is the right solution for you, it might be a good idea to “test drive” with contact lens before making the decision as some “learning” is required to adjust to this type of vision correction.
If you and your doctor decide that an a monofocal lens is the best vision correction for you then your ophthalmologist can implant different powered IOLs in the eye during your cataract surgery, this procedure is called “monovision”. Monovision can be achieved with contact lenses, refractive surgery or intraocular lens.
With a Premium Multifocal Lens Implant the patient’s distance and reading vision may be corrected to make the patient less dependent on reading glasses. After a refractive vision consultation, Dr. Madison will discuss the various options and types of implants so that you can make an informed decision regarding the best vision correction for your eyes and your lifestyle.
Are There Risks?
Those who undergo cataract surgery today need no longer face the fear, inconvenience and discomfort that accompanied the procedure years ago. Of course, all surgical procedures involve some risk. However, the skilled use of effective microsurgical technology, local anesthetics and modern implants provide the safest and most convenient surgery possible. Rare complications usually are treatable. When you schedule your surgery, we will provide an informed consent form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.