A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens in the eye, and occurs in everyone over time. For some people, this can occur early in life or due to other medical conditions, but for most, not until the 60’s or 70’s. As a cataract develops it can block the light from entering the eye and cause blurred vision, difficulty with color perception, and glare or halos. If a cataract has developed and is causing a patient difficulty with their vision and function in life, cataract surgery can help them see better. Cataract surgery has been available in its basic form for decades (and in very rudimentary forms for centuries!). However, new technology allows your surgeon to perform the surgery more safely, with better visual outcomes than in years past.
Because the cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye, at the time of surgery, the cataract is removed and a lens implant is almost always placed in the eye. In many people the lens implant can negate pre-existing farsightedness or nearsightedness, and reduce their glasses prescription. There are also lenses that can reduce astigmatism so that people generally just need reading glasses after surgery, or presbyopia, so that people may not need any glasses after surgery (for near or far).
In some cases, the use of a laser may help treat astigmatism or with the placement of the lens implant at the time of surgery. These lasers can help perform some of the steps of the procedure and be useful in treating patients with astigmatism, presbyopia, or certain medical conditions. In some cases the laser can even make the surgery safer in the hands of an already skilled surgeon, almost like a well-trained pilot using advanced instrumentation to fly.
For patients with glaucoma, a procedure can be done at the same time as cataract surgery called an iStent. A device is implanted into the eye during the surgery to improve the drainage of fluid out of the eye and decrease the pressure. In some cases patients may be able to reduce or eliminate their glaucoma drops with this procedure.
Only a conversation with a surgeon can determine which options are best for you, but the choices available today allow for a better quality of vision and reduced need for glasses and eyedrops than ever before!
*Please reference our Cataract FAQs and Cataract Surgery pages for further information.*