Cataract SurgeryWhat Is a Cataract?

Inside the front of the eye is a lens, much like the lens of a camera. Its function is to focus light rays onto the retina (the film in the camera) at the back of the eye, which then transmits pictures of what you see to the brain. This lens must remain clear for the light to properly pass through and reach the retina. When all or part of the lens becomes cloudy, like a whitewashed window, the vision becomes blurred. This clouding is referred to as a cataract. A cataract is part of the lens. It is not a film or growth over the eye.


Causes of Cataracts

There are several types of cataracts. Some can be present from birth (congenital) and others can form due to an injury to the head or eye (traumatic). Some are disease related (diabetes). Most cataracts are the result of the normal aging process of the eye. Over 95% of today’s population over 60 years of age have some degree of cataract development.

Symptoms of a Cataract

Dimming and blurring of vision are the main symptoms of cataracts. Colors may seem faded or altered and reading may become difficult or even impossible. With some types of cataracts, sunlight, car headlights, or halos around lights at night may be very irritating and interfere with vision. Many patients feel as though a film is covering their eye, however, this is really the cataract (clouded lens) which is obstructing vision from inside the eye and is not a film on its surface (Fig. 1).

Treatment for a Cataract

Surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts when glasses are no longer an option. There are no medicines, diets, or drops that will make a cataract go away. There is no laser surgery available at the present time to remove a cataract.

Decision to Have A Cataract Removed

In the great majority of cases, you are the one who will decide when to have cataract surgery. In the past, surgeons usually waited until a cataract reached the mature or ripe stage to remove it. However, modern surgical advances have made it safe and possible to perform cataract surgery at any stage of development. Therefore, if you are not able to drive a car and your lifestyle requires it; if you have difficulty reading and you do a lot of it; if you cannot do your own shopping; if you are losing a lot of golf balls; if you are forced to make significant changes in your way of life because of poor vision, you will probably want, and can, have your cataract removed. Cataract surgery is the most successful of any surgery on the body with success rates of 98% or higher.

Preparing for Surgery

There are several steps that are required prior to surgery. A standard medical examination and laboratory tests will be performed by your medical doctor to ensure your general health for surgery. Your eye will be measured by painless ultrasonic waves (Intraocular Lens Biometry) to determine the dimensions of your eye and the prescribed power of the intraocular lens implant that will be required to correct your vision, once the cataract has been removed

Cataract Surgery

There are several methods used to remove cataracts. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Each patient is evaluated individually for the type of surgery and type of intraocular lens implant (IOL) best suited for their particular cataract and their particular eye.

Some physicians and acquaintances may tell you they had laser removal of their cataract. There is no laser technique for removal of the original cataract. They have probably had Phacoemulsification, and are calling it laser – even though it is not .The Phacoemulsification technique (Fig.1) is the most advanced technique for cataract removal and is normally performed on an outpatient basis under local or topical anesthesia. The operation takes about 20 minutes and is usually painless during and after the surgery.

The lens of the eye is like an orange with a peel around the outside and a central core (Fig. 1). We call the outside peel the CAPSULE and the inner core, the CATARACT. In the Phacoemulsification technique, the front capsul or peel is removed. The core or cataract is then broken into many small particles by an ultrasonic probe and suctioned out of the eye, leaving the posterior capsule (peel) behind (Fig. 1). A plastic, acrylic, or soft silicone lens implant is then placed where the natural lens was, resting on the posterior capsule (peel). Intraocular lens implants are the most natural way to restore your vision after cataract surgery and are used in almost all cases.

There are several Intraocular lens implant options available to achieve distance vision and/or near vision after the cataract or clouded lens has been removed. (link to our preferred toric IOL) (link to our preferred standard IOL) (link to our preferred multifocal IOL)