Light passes through the lens in our eyes and gets focused on the retina to allow us to see the objects in front of us. Over time, this lens can naturally become cloudy or foggy, making what is seen appear blurry, hazy, and dull in color. This is a natural part of aging and is referred to as Cataracts. Cataracts prevent light and images from reaching the retina and thus resulting in the following Symptoms:
Seeing two images or double vision
Poor night vision
Sensitivity to light
Trouble seeing in low light or at night
Bright colors appear washed out and faded
Causes of cataracts
For many people, age is the most common cause of cataracts. Around the age of 40, proteins begin to break down in the lens due to normal eye changes. As the protein breaks down over time, it can cause the lens to become cloudy due to the lack of light that is able to pass through the lens to the retina. The small amount of light that reaches the retina to develop an image is diffused and scattered, hence creating a cloudy image. Around the age of 55 is when people start to notice a difference in their vision. Additional causes of cataracts are:
Family members who have had cataracts
Having diabetes or other medical problems, such as glaucoma and hyperthyroidism
Spending extended periods of time in the sun without sunglasses
Eye injury, eye surgery, or treatments with radiation to the upper body
Because cataracts occur naturally, they cannot be prevented by medications or dietary habits, but they can easily be treated through cataract surgery. The only way to correct your impaired vision due to cataracts is to remove the clouded lens and replace it with a new, artificial lens. Cataract procedure is quick and relatively pain-free. In most cases, the patient can return to normal activities in few of days after the procedure. Cataracts surgery is an outpatient patient surgery, allowing the patient to be back in their home the same day as their procedure.
Before the surgery, the doctor will prescribe eye drops to prevent infection. Only one eye will be treated at a time to give each eye time to adjust individually.
No surgery can be guaranteed, but cataract surgery is one of the safest and most successful operations performed today. More than 3 million cataracts procedures are performed each year. During the surgery, the doctor uses a topical anesthetic and makes sure that the patient is comfortable. Then he makes a tiny incision and an instrument the size of a tip of a pen is inserted. This instrument is used to break up the lens and remove the cataract. Finally, replacement lens called Intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted and the patient will gain the best vision possible.
Lens Implant Options
Before the surgery, the doctor will discuss the different options of intraocular lenses (IOLs) that will be a good fit for your eyes. IOLs are chosen based on your eyes, your visual needs and lifestyle. There are three types of IOLs.
1. Monofocal Lens This lens option is the most basic form of IOL. This particular lens is designed to provide clarity in your distance vision. However, if you have any pre-existing astigmatism you will most likely need to continue wearing glasses to correct for the astigmatism. It is also possible that you will need glasses for reading.
2. Astigmatism-Correcting Monofocal Lens (Toric) This advanced lens is designed for individuals with significant cataracts and pre-existing astigmatism. The lens clears up the cloudiness in distance vision and also corrects the blur from astigmatism. With this lens, you may still need to wear glasses for reading and seeing close-up.
3. Multifocal Lens This lens is designed to provide a full range of clean, sharp vision. A multifocal lens is designed with rings that each correct specific distances. Nearsightedness and farsightedness can both be corrected with this type of Lens.
Bladeless cataract surgery using LenSx Laser
Another option in performing cataract surgery is using advanced laser technology called LenSx Laser. Using the technology of a laser, the manual incision created by the surgeon is actually created by the laser. The laser also uses advanced technology that requires less energy in breaking up the old lens and removing it. Having the choice of bladeless technology creates increased accuracy and a quicker recovery period. The surgeon still manually performs areas of the surgery, but is assisted by laser technology to ensure precision and accuracy.
After the cataract surgery, your brain will have to learn how to work with the new artificial lens. It might take a few weeks or even several months for your vision to be optimal. You need to have complete eye exam by your doctor every year to make sure your eyes stay healthy.
Once a cataract has been removed, it cannot return. However, some patients overtime may notice that their vision has once again become cloudy. This condition is known as secondary cataract and it can be treated by a laser in your doctor’s office.
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