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A cataract is a common condition that causes a clouding of the eye's natural lens, and affects millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 65. Cloudiness develops as a result of a buildup of protein in the lens.
Cataracts cause a progressive, painless loss of vision. The lens clouds naturally as we age, causing people over the age of 65 to see a gradual reduction of vision. However, cataracts are not considered part of the natural aging process and are a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. The exact cause of cataracts is unknown, although it may be a result of injury, certain medications, illnesses (such as diabetes), prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and smoking.
Your doctor will perform a series of tests in order to diagnose a cataract. A dilated eye exam will be performed to test the vision and to examine the condition of the lens and other parts of the eye. Your doctor may also perform tonometry, a procedure that measures the pressure in the eye.
Patients with cataracts often do not experience any symptoms when the condition first develops. Cataracts will continue to progress with no apparent pain, although patients may experience:
Vision Before and After Cataract Surgery
If visual impairment begins to interfere with your ability to read, work or do the things you enjoy, you may want to consider cataract surgery to restore your vision. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the US, and can be performed quickly and easily with a success rate of over 90 percent and a minimal risk of complications.
Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves numbing the eye with anesthesia and then making a tiny incision, into which an ultrasonic probe is inserted. The probe breaks up, or emulsifies, the cloudy lens into tiny pieces and then gently vacuums them out of the eye. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, a new artificial lens is implanted into the eye. This lens is known as an intraocular lens (IOL), and can often be inserted through the same small incision through which the old lens was removed.
Surgery usually takes only a few minutes to perform and is painless. Patients can return home the very same day, but will need someone to drive them home. For the next few days, you may experience blurring and sensitivity to light and touch. Your doctor will prescribe eye drops to help the healing process and to reduce the risk of infection.
There are several different IOLs available to help each patient achieve the best possible results from his/her cataract surgery. Multifocal IOLs allow for full vision correction at near, intermediate and far distances, often eliminating the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses in most patients. Some IOLs can also correct astigmatism.
These choices were not always available for cataract patients. In the past, cataract surgery only involved monofocal lenses, which could focus on objects near or far, but could not adjust to accommodate varying distances. These patients still had to rely on glasses or contact lenses after surgery in order to see clearly at all distances.
If left untreated, cataracts will worsen over time and may lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness. It is important to see your eye doctor regularly in order to detect cataracts as early as possible and to plan an effective treatment method.
Although cataract surgery is considered safe, there are certain risks associated with any surgery. Some of these risks may include pain, infection, swelling and bleeding. Most patients undergo this procedure without any complications.
After cataract surgery with standard implant lenses, most patients still needed glasses or bifocals for seeing clearly at close range, as these traditional lenses only provided distance vision correction. Now, there are a wide range of IOLs available to help patients see clearly after surgery, each with its own unique properties. Your doctor will help you decide which type of IOL is best for you after evaluating your vision condition and goals.
Standard implant lenses provide brilliant distance vision, even in low-light conditions, but still require reading glasses for desirable near vision. The fixed focal point in these lenses restricts vision improvements. Patients who do not mind wearing reading glasses are often satisfied with the results achieved by this traditional lens, which has been used safely and effectively for many years.
New technological advances have allowed for the development of Premium Lens Implants. One type, the Accommodating IOL, can help patients achieve clear distance and near vision without depending on glasses. Although it only has a single focusing point, the Accommodating IOL can shift its focus to "accommodate" the movements of the eye, allowing both near and distant objects to appear clearly depending on where the patient chooses to focus.
Another Premium Lens Implant, Multifocal IOL, divides light that enters the eye to produce multiple focal points at the same time, allowing for clear vision at all distances without the need for glasses. Many patients seek the unmatched benefits of these advanced, FDA-approved lenses for their vision correction needs. However, these lenses sometimes cause more night vision complaints than with other IOLs, so it is important for patients to weigh all options with their doctor before choosing the best IOL.
Modern day cataract surgery allows patients to have a state-of-the-art cataract procedure using premium lens implants, which can restore vision to a level many patients have never experienced before!
Dr. Niswander has performed over 15,000 eye procedures and is excited to offer this new technology to his patients.