In your parents or grandparents day cataract surgery was considered risky, required a lengthy hospital stay and was usually postponed for as long as possible.
Today, at Mullis Eye Institute, cataract surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure and takes only minutes. After the cataract surgery, patients can go home to rest in comfort, and avoid the inconvenience and expense of staying a hospital.
Over fifty percent of people over the age of 60, and quite a few younger than that, suffer from cataracts. In fact, cataracts are so common, it is said that everyone will develop a cataract if they live long enough.
A cataract is a progression of clouding of the eye’s natural lens that interferes with light passing through to the retina. Sufferers usually describe the condition as being similar to looking through a waterfall, or a piece of wax paper, with a gradual blurring or dimming of vision.
Reading may become more difficult and driving a car can actually become dangerous. Cataract sufferers may also be troubled by a bothersome glare, halos around the lights, or even double vision. And, as the cataract becomes worse, frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions may become necessary.
Currently, there is no medical treatment to reverse or prevent the development of cataracts. Once they form, there is only one way to achieve clear vision again, and that is to physically remove the cataract from inside the eye and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).
Advances in Cataract Surgery
There have been many advances in cataract surgery techniques and IOL technology in recent years. With over one million cataract surgery procedures performed each year, many patients now experience a quality of vision that is even better than before they developed cataracts.
Your cataracts will be removed with an advanced technique called phacoemulsification or small-incision cataract surgery. Most people only require topical, ‘eye-drop’ anesthesia. After the eye is completely numbed a self-sealing incision of about 1.8″ is made in the sclera (white part of the eye), or in the clear cornea (just about the area where the cornea meets the sclera).
The cataract is then broken in microscopic particles using high-energy sound waves and gently suctioned from the eye. Then, to compensate for the removal of eye’s natural lens, an intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted into the “capsular bag”, the same thin tissue that held your natural lens. Once the lens is positioned, the eye remains tightly sealed by the natural outward pressure within your eye.
Benefits of Self-Sealing and Topical Anesthesia
Topical anesthesia and self-sealing incisions have taken cataract surgery to the next level. Many patients are able to see with clear vision much sooner after the surgery. In most cases, it is now possible to return to daily activities, such as driving and reading, almost immediately. With ‘eye-drop’ anesthesia, there is no need for a painful needle injection which delays vision restoration and could cause temporary swelling and skin discoloration.
The Choice Is Yours
It can take months or years for a cataract to fully develop. How do you know when its time to have a cataract removed the answer is quite simple. The time to have your cataract removed is when you believe your quality of life would be better if you could see better. Only you can decide when it’s time to open your eyes to a brighter, clear world.