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 may 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.
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 eyes 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 suctions 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 incision that the old lens was removed from. Surgery usually takes only a few minutes to perform and is painless for most patients. After the procedure, a patch may be placed over the eye and you will be asked to rest for a while. Patients can return home the very same day, but will need someone to drive them home. For the next few days, you may experience itching, mild discomfort, fluid discharge and sensitivity to light and touch. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops to help the healing process and to reduce the risk of infection.
There are different types of IOLs available to help each patient achieve the best possible results from his or her cataract surgery. Some IOLs can correct astigmatism. These astigmatism-correcting IOLs are called Toric IOLs. There are also IOLs called extended-depth-of-focus IOLs, which provide a continuous range of high-quality vision - from near to far and points in between - and may reduce the frequency of wearing glasses. These choices were not always available for cataract patients.
In the past, cataract surgery only involved monofocal lenses, which could only 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, especially in older patients suffering from presbyopia. 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.
Premium Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)
There are a wide range of replacement lenses available to cataract patients, each offering different advantages for your post-surgery vision. The most effective lens depends on each patient's individual preferences and goals for their vision. Before premium lenses, patients were unable to see clearly at both near and far distances without the use of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Most lens implants are monofocal, meaning that they have only one focal point and could not adjust to varying distances. New advances in technology have allowed for the development of extended depth of focus and astigmatism-correcting IOLs. Premium lens implants are ideal for cataract patients who are also suffering from presbyopia and want a replacement lens that provides a full range of clear vision.
Extended Depth of Focus IOLs Extended depth of focus lens implants use technology that can lessen your dependency on glasses for both near and far vision and points in between. Dr. Jahnle uses an implant called the Tecnis Symfony® Extended Range of Vision IOL. This may be a good option if you prefer not to wear glasses after cataract surgery. However, the Tecnis Symfony® IOL is not right for everyone, so make sure to discuss your options with your surgeon. The Tecnis Symfony® IOL works best in patients who do not have astigmatism or other eye diseases like macular degeneration. If you do have astigmatism and are interested in an extended depth of focus IOL, you may be a good fit for the Tecnis Symfony® Toric IOL.
Astigmatism-Correcting (Toric) IOLs When a patient has both cataracts and astigmatism, a toric implant may be the best option for correcting distance vision to lessen the need for glasses. Our cataract surgeons, Dr. Jahnle, Dr. Krespan, and Dr. Grover, use an implant called the Tecnis® Toric IOL. Discuss the Tecnis® Toric IOL lens with your surgeon if you think this may be an option for you.
To learn more about Cataract Surgery or to make an appointment, please call the office nearest you.