The word cataract is used to describe a natural lens that has turned cloudy. Cataracts are not a disease, but rather a condition affecting the eye. As the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy, it does not allow light to pass through it as well as it did when it was transparent. Cataracts usually start as a slight cloudiness that progressively grows more opaque. They are usually white, but may take on color such as yellow or brown. As the cataract becomes more mature (increasingly opaque and dense), the retina receives less and less light. The light that does reach the retina becomes increasingly blurred and distorted – this causes gradual impairment of vision. If left untreated, cataracts can cause needless blindness. A cataract can only be removed by surgery.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed, usually with excellent results. Generally, cataracts are removed on an out-patient basis, unless admission to the hospital is medically necessary. Most patients are up and about on the day of surgery.
If you know you have cataracts and need special care, Standard Optical can help.
Pain-Free Cataract Surgery
Thanks to advances in anesthesia, cataract surgery is a pain-free experience. Patients are awake during the surgery and are able to resume normal activities shortly after. According to a survey conducted by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, more than 98% of cataract patients had their vision successfully improved after surgery. Many patients experience vision that is actually better than before they developed cataracts. Once removed, cataracts will not grow back. However, some patients may experience clouding of a thin tissue called the capsule or “bag” that holds the intra-ocular lens (IOL). If this occurs a laser is used to painlessly open the clouded capsule and restore clear vision.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
- A gradual deterioration in vision over time
- Objects may appear yellow, hazy, blurred or distorted
- Vision at night or in low light conditions may be dramatically reduced
- Vision in bright light or in the sunshine may be difficult due to glare
- Halos may appear around bright lights at night
Advances in Cataract Surgery
Not so long ago, cataract surgery involved lengthy delays marked by deteriorating vision while the cataract “ripened.” An extended and confining recovery period was required, plus there was a need for unsightly “cataract” glasses or contact lenses to achieve functional vision after surgery.
Now the surgery is a simple, out-patient procedure. The stay at an ambulatory surgery center is just a few hours, and recovery time after surgery is dramatically reduced. Many people enjoy improved vision with minimal dependence upon corrective eyewear as a result of modern cataract surgery.
Your cataract will be removed with an advanced technique called phaco-emulsification, or small-incision cataract surgery. After applying a local anesthetic, a tiny incision of about 1/8″ is made in the front part of the eye. The cataract is then broken into microscopic particles using high-energy sound waves and gently suctioned from the eye. Then, to compensate for the removal of the eye’s natural lens, an intra-ocular lens (IOL) is implanted into the eye. After using the same small incision you may receive one, several or no stitches. This type of incision is self-healing, stronger and remains tightly sealed by the natural outward pressure within the eye.
Cataract surgery is a pain-free experience thanks to advances in anesthesia. Patients are awake during the surgery and are able to resume normal activities shortly afterwards.