Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision impairment in the United States. A natural part of aging, a cataract is a clouding of the lens inside your eye. If you are over 55, there’s a good chance that you may have some form of cataracts. Because they form slowly over a long period of time, many people suffer from this condition without ever realizing it.
When the lens becomes clouded with a cataract, it prevents lights and images from reaching the retina. Vision with cataracts has been described as seeing through a cloudy or foggy window. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may have cataracts:
- Blurry or foggy vision
- Colors appear dull, washed out or faded
- Poor night vision
- Halos appear around lights
- Sensitivity to sunlight or bright lights
- Needing more light to read
- Your glasses don’t seem to work
If left untreated, the clouded areas of your lens can become larger and denser, causing your sight to become worse. This can take months to many years. Eventually, your entire lens can cloud over and cause blindness. More than three million cataract procedures are performed each year in the United States alone.
If you think that you may have cataracts, contact our office to schedule an evaluation.
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Treating Your Cataracts
The only way to truly correct your vision is to remove your clouded lens and replace it with a new, artificial one. It’s a safe, simple procedure that can be performed as soon as your vision interferes with your daily life. Today, patients can choose from a variety of replacement lenses (IOL-intraocular lens).
When preparing for your traditional or laser cataract procedure, remember the following:
- You will need someone to drive you to and from the surgery center. No overnight stay is required and the whole process usually lasts less than 30 minutes.
- Before and/or after surgery, your doctor will likely prescribe eye drops to help prevent infection and reduce swelling for faster recovery.
- Most patients experience improved vision very soon after surgery. Your sight may continue to steadily improve.
- One eye is treated at a time to give the eye adequate time to recover and stabilize before treating the other. This usually takes several weeks.
Following your procedure, your brain will have to learn how to work with your new artificial lens. It may take a few weeks or even months for your vision to be optimal.
Talk to our doctors about the risks and benefits of cataract procedures so you can make an informed decision about your options.
Which Replacement Lens is Right for Me?
Because of the options available, there has never been a better time to have cataract surgery. An intraocular lens, known as an IOL, is an artificial lens used to replace your cloudy natural lens. Today’s options with IOLs offer an opportunity to correct other vision problems. Because no single lens is right for everyone, our doctors will determine which lens is the most appropriate option for you.
These lenses have a single focal point for clear distance vision. While distance vision is improved, most patients still need to wear glasses for near vision activities, like reading.
Astigmatism Correcting Lenses
These lenses are designed to provide a full range of clear, sharp vision.
These lenses are designed to provide focus for both distance and near objects. They can correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness and presbyopia.
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Cataract Surgery Options
During cataract surgery, the natural lens of your eye is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant. There are two approaches – traditional and advanced laser assisted.
Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery using the ALCON LenSx® Laser Technology
What is the LenSx Laser?
The LenSx® is one of the most advanced and safest ways to perform cataract surgery. The LenSx® Laser is an advanced, precision based technology that operates with unmatched precision and computer-control, helping surgeons to customize the procedure to your eye. It is a technologically advanced option for cataract patients. When you choose the LenSx® Laser, you’ll enjoy a range of vital benefits.
A Custom Tailored Solution for Your Eyes
While all human eyes share the same basic anatomical structure, every eye is different in terms of size, depth, curvature of the cornea and other key features. This is why every eye must be carefully measured and mapped prior to cataract surgery. While these measurements have been routinely performed prior to surgery, the LenSx® Laser uses a range of highly advanced technologies- including integrated optical coherence tomography (OCT)- to capture incredible precise, high-resolution images of your eyes. These images- and the measurements and data they provide- are then used to plan and perform a surgery to exacting specifications not attainable with traditional surgery.
Computer Control to Ensure Unmatched Precision and Accuracy Every Step of the Way
The LenSx® Laser adds computer-control to key steps of cataract surgery. Its unique software control system analyzes high-resolution OCT images of your eye; helps the surgeon design a customized procedure, and then, visualizes and performs the procedure on command from the surgeon! To further enhance the accuracy, a patient interface connects your eye to the image-guided surgical unit, so that both the LensX® Laser computer and the surgeon commanding it have precise, real-time images at all times during the laser procedure.
The Next Evolution in Cataract Surgery
In non-laser cataract surgery, the surgeon makes incisions and removes the old lens using traditional surgical instruments and blades. The LenSx® Laser performs several of the most critical steps of the surgical process with an image-guided femtosecond laser. The LenSx® Laser is an ophthalmic laser for use in patients undergoing cataract surgery. The laser is used as a tool to fragment a cataractous lens, to create a capsular opening and to create incisions in the cornea . The LenSx® Laser uses an accessory called the LenSx® Laser Patient Interface to hold the eye steady during the procedure.
SOURCE: Alcon a Novartis Company, 2013 Novartis, LenSx® Laser
Dr. haverly describes our laser eye technology
The traditional surgical process involves a small incision phacoemulsification technique which many eye doctors refer to as micro-surgery. This means that the cataract surgery is performed using the smallest possible incision and removal of the lens material is accomplished using an ultrasonic needle. Once the eye has been properly dilated, the eye is then prepared with a cleaning solution. Topical anesthetic is then administered to the surface of the eye. Next, under a microscope, an incision of less than 3 millimeters in length is created at the junction of the cornea (the clear structure on the front of the eye) and the sclera (the white part of the eye).
After the incision is made, another dose of anesthetic is administered inside the eye. The front part of the lens envelope, known as the lens capsule, is carefully opened so that the lens material can be removed. This is accomplished using a needle-like ultrasonic device, which pulverizes the hardened and yellowed lens proteins known as the cataract. The pulverized material is simultaneously vacuumed from the eye. Once the cataract material has been removed, a foldable (IOL) intraocular lens is inserted through the main incision and positioned into the lens capsule. The lens will remain inside your eye in this location without moving. Intraocular lenses cannot be felt or sensed in any way by the patient. There are different options for the replacement lens that may enable vision without glasses after surgery.
Make Treating Your Glaucoma A Part of Treating Your Cataract
iStent works like the stents used to prevent heart attacks and strokes. When blood vessels get clogged, a stent creates access to the vessel flow. While it’s a highly innovative technology, how iStent works is elegantly simple.
If you have glaucoma, over time your eye’s natural drainage system becomes clogged. iStent creates a permanent opening through the blockage to improve the eye’s natural fluid outflow. By improving the outflow of fluid in your eye, iStent is designed to lower and control the pressure within your eye.
The world’s tiniest medical device – the iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent – is 20,000 times smaller than the intraocular lens (IOL) your doctor will use to replace your cataracts. But the size of iStent is only part of its story. By increasing your eye’s ability to drain fluid, this technology is designed to improve the aqueous outflow to safely lower your eye pressure.
If you are a candidate for the iStent then your surgeon can implant it during your cataract surgery procedure. Once implanted, iStent will begin working to safely and effectively manage your eye pressure. Because of iStent, you may experience a reduction in glaucoma medications but this will be at the discretion of your doctor.
See How iStent Works
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