What is a cataract?

A cataract is an opacity that clouds the natural lens inside the eye.  Normally the path of light to the retina (where the light sensors are) is as clear as possible.  When proteins that make up the lens clump together, the resulting cataract blocks some of the light, making vision blurry or hazy.

 

Cataracts typically occur more frequently in the aging population, however there are many other factors such as family history, diabetes, long term UV exposure, or certain medications like steroids that can cause cataracts.  Also, previous eye injuries can be an attributing factor

                                                                    

 

Cataract symptoms may include:

  • Blurry vision.
  • Lights seem too bright or have a “halo” effect.
  • Double vision in one eye.
  • Decreased night vision – sensitivity to glare from headlights.
  • Dull or fading colors.

 

 

Some people actually experience an improvement in their near vision during the beginning stages of a cataract.  Unfortunately, this effect goes away as the disease progresses.  Early on, a cataract may be treated with increased glasses or contact prescription.  Once the cataract begins to interfere with daily tasks such as reading and driving, surgery is the only remaining option. 

 

Cataract Surgery

The cataract surgeons at the Cottonwood Eye and Laser Center will discuss cataract surgery with you if your cataracts are progressed enough to negatively affect your vision. Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, and complications (if any) are rare and treatable.  Cataract surgery itself is highly successful in improving the vision of patients about 95% of the time.  Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure usually taking less than 30 minutes to complete.

During cataract surgery, Dr. Alan Jackson removes the cloudy natural lens from the eye while the patient is under a topical anesthesia.  Next, the cataract surgeon inserts an intraocular lens (IOL), which remains permanently in place of the removed natural lens.  The IOL compensates for the magnification the old lens provided. 

 

 

                            

                             

Traditional monofocal intraocular lenses are are the most common type of lens used in cataract surgery today. These lenses are intended to give clear vision at one distance (distance, intermediate, or near). To see clearly at all distances, glasses or contact lenses must be used.

The newest generation of intraocular lenses used in cataract surgery are called presbyopic IOLs. These lenses correct presbyopia, or the inability to focus up close without glasses (a condition affecting most people over age 40).  

These new lenses are broken down into two categories: multifocal IOLs and accommodative IOLs.  

Multifocal lenses:

The multifocal lenses approved for use are the ReZoom™lens from AMO and the AcrySof® ReSTOR® lens from Alcon. These lenses have different zones built within the lens that allow one to see at multiple distances (near, intermediate, and far) with less dependence or complete freedom from glasses.

ReSTOR IOL 

AcrySof® ReSTOR®  ReSTOR website

 

Rezoom IOL 

ReZoomRezoom website

 Accomodative lenses:

Accomodative IOLs are designed to use the eyes natural eye muscles to flex and accomodate the lens in order to focus on objects at a variety of distances. The lens is designed to move back and forth as you change focus on images around you thereby given you sharp focus at a variety of distances decreasing or eliminating the need for glasses. The only FDA approved accomodative IOL is the Crystalens® from © Bausch & Lomb. 

Crystalens IOL

Crystalens® Crystalens website

 

During your examination your cataract surgeon will discuss the various options with you to determine which lens would be the most appropriate for you.

 For more information, click the following link Cataract Surgery from Alcon Laboratories.

Recovery from Cataract Surgery

Recovery for cataract surgery is fairly rapid. You may return home the day of the procedure.  With proper rest and avoidance of any strenuous activities such as heavy lifting, recovery is usually a matter of days, with only minor discomfort.  Several follow up appointments after cataract surgery will be required to ensure the eye is healing properly and initial results are sustained.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of cataract problems, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our cataract surgeons.