What is a cataract?
When the natural crystalline lens of the eye becomes cloudy, it is called a cataract. This prevents light and images from getting into the eye properly. Cataracts are a natural part of aging and the leading cause of visual loss in adults 55 and over.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
There a variety of symptoms associated with a cataract. Some of the more common ones are:
- A decrease in vision, even when wearing prescription glasses;
- Seeing glare or haloes around lights
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Increased difficulty with vision in dim lighting.
Pain is not typically associated with a cataract.
What is the treatment for a cataract?
The best treatment for a cataract is surgery. Cataract surgery is a straightforward procedure that takes about 20 minutes, and patients are back home the same day.
How is a cataract removed?
A cataract is removed through a micro-incision in the eye with a small ultrasonic probe about the size of a pen tip.
Is cataract surgery painful?
The great majority of patients undergoing cataract surgery are quite comfortable. This is achieved with a combination of intravenous medicine and medicine applied directly to the eye.
Are there any restrictions after cataract surgery?
There are practically no restrictions after cataract surgery. Patients can engage in regular visual activities, and only need to avoid strenuous activities that require straining for a short period of time after surgery.
Does a cataract ever grow back?
No. Once a cataract is removed, it is gone forever.
What is an intraocular lens (IOL)?
During cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens of the eye is removed and is replaced with a new artificial lens, or IOL, to help restore vision. Without an IOL, patients would need to wear extremely thick eyeglasses. Therefore, IOLs are now the standard of care.
Are there different kinds of IOLs?
Yes. One of the most exciting developments in cataract surgery has been the development of various models of IOLs. This has given cataract surgeons the ability to customize surgery to match the health and visual needs of their patients.
IOLs can be grouped into two main categories:
What is astigmatism, and how will it affect my cataract operation?
Astigmatism is an additional factor is some patients’ vision that causes scattering of light and blurred vision. It often comes from a different curve of the eye. An eye without astigmatism is curved like a baseball while an eye with astigmatism is curved like a football.
In order to achieve the best possible vision after cataract surgery, it is recommended to treat the astigmatism with either a special IOL (toric IOL), or micro-incisions on the surface of the eye.
Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
It depends on the patient and kind of IOL selected. Patients selecting a traditional IOL will most likely need glasses for near vision (e.g. reading newspapers or books). Patients selecting a premium IOL typically will have much greater freedom from glasses.