How can a cataract be treated and when should surgery be performed?
The only effective treatment for cataract is surgical removal of the clouded lens. A cataract cannot be cleared by eye drops, medication taken by mouth, eye exercises, or laser treatment. If a cataract is the only problem with your vision, you have every reason to look forward to your restored vision. Modern cataract surgery is one of the most successful operations performed in the United States today.
Cataract surgery is advised when the cataract begins to interfere with one’s normal activities. The development of a cataract is not, in itself, an indication that surgery is required. If you suspect that you have a cataract, a thorough evaluation should be performed. After several tests have been made, the doctor will discuss with you the need for cataract surgery. If it is decided the time is right for you to have a cataract surgery, the operation can be scheduled to be performed at your convenience. The decision to have the surgery is, of course, ultimately the patient’s decision.
Small Incision Surgery
The eye’s natural lens consists of an outer covering, or capsule, and an inner gel-like material called the nucleus. An opening is made into the lens capsule and the cloudy nucleus is removed. The lens capsule is left in place to support the new lens implant.
Phacoemulsification (phaco) surgery combines powerful microscopes with precise operating instruments, allowing your surgeon to make an incision less than one-third the size of a traditional incision. Stitches are rarely needed, visual recovery is faster and there is less chance for surgically induced astigmatism (distortion of vision) than with more traditional surgical procedures.
The Importance of Pre-Surgery Testing
A routine eye examination determines the health of your eyes and their ability to have cataract and lens implant surgery. Several tests measure your eye to determine the power of the intraocular lens. An endothelial cell count is another measure we use to determine your eye health and your opportunity for restored vision. When you arrive at the Clayton Cataract & Laser Surgery Center on the day of surgery, additional tests may be performed to prepare you for surgery.
Small Incision Intraocular Lens Implants
Today, the most common way of replacing the focusing lens of the eye is with an artificial lens implant or intraocular lens. Intraocular lenses give the patient a permanent focusing device that requires no care by the patient. New advances in Intraocular lens (IOL) technology include narrow profile lenses made of materials that are highly compatible with the body’s own natural tissues. Narrow profile lenses allow your surgeon to insert the lens through the small “phaco” incision. The combination of surgical technique and the narrow profile lens is credited with allowing the patient to experience a better visual recovery in less time and with fewer complications than with previous lens implants.
Vision After Surgery
Since cataract surgery involves the removal of the focusing lens of the eye, a replacement lens must be present to see well after the surgery. There is a choice of three substitute lenses used to replace the removed cloudy lens: (1) cataract glasses, (2) contact lenses, and (3) intraocular lens implants. The most natural way to restore vision is to insert an intraocular lens implant into the same place as your natural lens.
With today’s painless, small incision eye surgery techniques, visual recovery occurs rapidly after surgery. Many people who have worn glasses for years are amazed at how good their vision is after cataract and lens implant surgery. For many patients, problems like astigmatism and nearsightedness are treated surgically during the procedure. As a result, the need for eyeglasses after surgery is greatly reduced or eliminated.