When is Cataract Surgery Needed?
Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the world. They affect approximately 24 million Americans. Although cataracts are primarily associated with aging, due to age-related changes in lens proteins of the eyes, all ages can be affected under certain circumstances. Some people may even be born with cataracts.
If left untreated, cataracts may progress and can render individuals virtually blind. The good news is, however, with prompt diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to restore your vision back to normal.
If you have been diagnosed with cataracts, you are probably wondering what types of treatment options are available. Unfortunately, medications, supplements, or eye drops can not prevent or treat cataracts. The early symptoms can be improved with updated eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions and anti-glare glasses or magnifying lenses. Ultimately, as the cataracts become moderate or advanced, surgery is the primary treatment modality to effectively restore your vision and keep you seeing better for the rest of your life. Fortunately, once they are removed, cataracts do not return.
When is cataract surgery recommended?
In the past, it was recommended to patients with cataracts to wait until their vision was severely limited, before considering surgery. Luckily, with advances in medical and surgical technologies, cataracts can now be removed at any stage of their development. If you wish, you can have your cataracts treated as soon as they are detected, and before your eyesight becomes severely compromised.
What happens if I have cataracts in both eyes?
Cataracts can affect one or both eyes. If you have them in both, you will need to have surgery on each eye separately. This can usually be done within a few weeks of each other. This will give each eye adequate time to heal and your vision time to return. Only under rare and unique circumstances are both eyes operated on at the same time.
The cataract surgery procedure
Routine cataract surgery usually only takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes. It is performed with topical or local anesthesia meaning that you are awake for the procedure but will not feel any pain. Before your operation, a technician will administer eyedrops to dilate the pupil making it easier for the surgery to be performed.
The most common surgical technique to treat cataracts is known as phacoemulsification. First, tiny incisions are made into the cornea, which is the clear window in the front of your eye. These incisions can be made with a fine microkeratome blade or laser. These options can be discussed as part of your cataract surgery planning.
Removing the cataract
A small phacoemulsification probe is then inserted through the cornea into the eye. This probe emits ultrasound waves that break up the cataract into small pieces. These pieces are then liquified and vacuumed out of your eye with the same probe. The remaining pieces of the outer lens of your eye are also removed.
Replacing the lens
During your cataract procedure, the damaged lens of your eye will be removed. It will be replaced with a precise intraocular lens (IOL) implant which is measured specifically for your needs. This IOL lens implant is permanently situated in your eye. It cannot be felt, touched, or moved. Once in place, it will help you to see clearly for the rest of your life.
Types of Intraocular Lens (IOL)
Monofocal lenses – this type of IOL will help you see clearly, but you will likely require glasses or contact lenses to see best under different circumstances. Dr. Ahdoot will review these with you. Monofocal lenses are the variety most commonly used in cataract operations
Toric lenses – this type of IOL will treat astigmatism so that you will not be completely dependent on glasses or contact lenses after surgery.
Multifocal & Combination Multifocal/Toric lenses – with these advanced lens implants, your vision will be clear and you will not need glasses or contact lenses after surgery for most routine activates.
- Accommodating lenses – these most closely resembles the natural lens of the eye and allow the wearer to focus on both near and distant objects, just like a natural lens.
Recovery from cataract surgery
Recovery from cataract surgery is usually relatively simple and quick. You should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and if possible, stay with you for the first 24 hours. This is largely because your vision will still be compromised while your eye heals. You will be seen in the office on multiple visits after surgery to assure your eye is healing properly and adjust your postoperative medications (usually eye drops). Complications after cataract surgery are extremely rare. If you take good care of yourself during your recovery period, you will help to minimize any problems.
If you have recently been diagnosed with cataracts and would like to find out more about the surgical treatment that can help to restore you vision, Dr. Michael Ahdoot and the team at Progressive Ophthalmology would be happy to assist you.
With extensive experience in providing exceptional quality ocular treatments and patient care in Sunnyside, Queens and the Metropolitan New York City area, you can rest assured you are in safe hands. Schedule an appointment today at 718-565-2020.