Just as there is a lens in a camera, there is a lens in the eye – the crystalline lens. The lens sits just behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. Just like the lens in a camera, the crystalline lens in needed to focus light in the eye. When the lens becomes cloudy this is called a cataract.
Cataract surgery is the removal and replacement of the natural lens of the eye that has developed a cataract.
Cataracts form over time due to metabolic changes in the crystalline lens fibers. Cataracts can develop with age in most individuals, and though it is very rare, cataracts can be present early in childhood due to enzyme defects or severe trauma to the eye.
Other risk factors that can lead to the development of cataracts at an earlier age include:
- Certain medications such as steroids
- Radiation exposure
A strong glare from lights, poor nighttime vision, and difficulty reading could be early symptoms of cataracts.
Cataracts can be diagnosed by a thorough eye examination by an Ophthalmologist (eye surgeon). At that point, cataract surgery may be an option depending on how advanced the cataract has become.
ABOUT THE SURGICAL PROCEDURE
Cataract surgery is a safe and effective way to restore vision loss that is due to a cataract. It is important to realize that there a numerous other causes of vision loss and that cataract surgery would not be expected to improve vision loss due to other causes.
During surgery, your ophthalmologist will remove the old lens that has the cataract and implant a synthetic lens. This is usually accomplished by making small incisions in the eye. A small ultrasound probe is then used to break up the clouded lens. The fragmented pieces of lens material are then sucked out. This procedure is called Phacoemulsification, and it is the most common cataract surgery today.
After the natural lens is removed, your ophthalmologist will then place an artificial lens in the area where the cataract was. The lens is a vital part and essential to help your eye focus. It will remain permanently in place and is not visible.
The ophthalmologists of La Peer have helped thousands of patients with cataracts achieve better vision. The procedure usually requires minimal sedation, and stitches are often not needed.
TYPES OF LENSES
When preparing for cataract surgery, your La Peer ophthalmologist will speak with you about your lens options since you will be receiving a lens implant. It is very important to be fully educated about your lens options so you can pick the best lens for your lifestyle.
Artificial lenses are available in several varieties including monofocal, toric, and multifocal. The lenses differ in the type of refractive (focusing) issues they correct.
The most common lens is monofocal. A monofocal lens allows the eye to focus at one distance, which is most commonly set for long distance vision. With monofocal lenses, patients still require reading glasses and may also need glasses at distance.
Toric lenses are uses in patients with astigmatism. Glasses are still sometimes needed with these lenses after surgery.
Multifocal lenses can help patients see near and far clearly because they have different areas of focus, but they are not for everyone. Your doctor can discuss the lens options available with you.
COST OF CATARACT SURGERY
Both private insurance plans and Medicare cover cataract surgery, with some limitations. It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the pricing range, out of pocket expenses, doctor fees, copayments or deductibles that would apply. It is also very important to discuss with your insurance company what will not be covered and is out of the range of coverage.
BEFORE AND AFTER CATARACT SURGERY: WHAT TO EXPECT
Cataract surgery is often a relatively quick outpatient procedure. Done one eye at a time, our doctors usually allow for at least one to two weeks in between surgeries. Although the actual procedure does not take very long long, with preoperative and postoperative procedures you should only be at our Beverly Hills surgery center for about three hours.
Patients undergo local anesthesia often with some intravenous sedation. It is important to know that the patient will be expected to lie on their back for about 30 minutes to an hour, especially for patients with any type of back pain or medical conditions. Also be sure to arrange for a ride to and from the doctor’s office, since you will not be able to drive immediately after the surgery.
Depending on the postoperative instructions, you should be back to work and normal activities in a matter of a couple days. Your vision may be slightly blurry at first, but two to three days later, your vision should begin adjusting. You may be asked to wear an eye patch or shield for about 24 hours after the surgery and at night to protect your eye. It is normal to feel itching while your eye is healing, however, avoid rubbing or touching your eye. You will also have to apply eye drops after the surgery.
Your doctor will go over all of this with you.
ALTERNATIVES TO CATARACT SURGERY
Unfortunately, there is no real alternative to cataract surgery. You can delay the need for the surgery by taking steps to avoid driving at night, increasing your lighting, etc. However, once the cataract has progressed to a certain point it is going to be difficult to see until the lens is replaced through cataract surgery.
The cataract diminishes the ability of light to enter the eye. Even with great lighting and great glasses, there is no other cure for this condition.
CATARACT SURGERY FAQS
Q: What are the symptoms of cataracts?
A: Blurry or foggy vision, colors appearing faded, poor night vision, halos appearing around lights, and sensitivity to bright lights can all be symptoms of a cataract.
Q: What causes cataracts?
A:Many things can cause a cataract to form, the most common being the natural aging process. Eye injuries, diabetes, glaucoma, and chronic use of corticosteroids can cause cataracts as well.
Q: Is there anything I could have done, or do, to prevent cataracts from forming?
A:No, cataracts are a part of the natural aging process. Wearing sunglasses and eating a diet rich in antioxidants are good ideas, though they have not been proven to delay cataract development.
Q: Why do my cataract symptoms differ from someone else’s?
A: There are multiple types of cataracts. Even within the same type of a cataract, there exist a range of symptoms a person can experience.
Q: Is developing a cataract an inevitable part of aging?
A: Yes, most people develop cataracts later in life.
Q: Do certain diseases or conditions make a person more likely to develop cataracts?
A: Yes, diabetes and glaucoma both predispose a person to developing cataracts.
Q: Is presbyopia related to cataracts?
A: Sort of. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens, which blurs the vision. Presbyopia is the loss of ability to focus close up (i.e. the need for reading glasses) due to the aging lens becoming less flexible. Although presbyopia and cataract cause different vision problems, they both happen with age and are frequently present in the same patient.
Q: Can cataracts spread from one eye to the other?
A: No, but a person can develop cataracts in both eyes.
Q: Can I go blind from cataracts?
A: If left untreated, cataracts can lead to severe vision loss, even blindness. Fortunately, this can be treated with surgery.
CONTACT AN EYE DOCTOR IN BEVERLY HILLS
The Department of Ophthalmology at La Peer not only offers breakthrough eye surgeries but also a medical program that begins with consultation and moves through to both diagnosis and treatment and finishes with high quality aftercare. This ensures that your eyes remain healthy and that conditions do not develop or reoccur.
The Beverly Hills ophthalmologists at La Peer offer the latest eye surgeries including:
- Cataract surgery
- Tear duct surgery
- Orbital surgery
- Cosmetic eyelid surgery
The doctors of La Peer are extensively involved in medical research and clinical trials. Our aim is to be at the forefront of patient care and to ensure that our physicians remain at the forefront of medical innovation.
If you have an eye complaint, or believe that you need treatment for an issue pertaining to your eyes or vision then please get in touch with us. You can do this via the online contact form, phone (855.360.9119), or email. We look forward to helping you through your treatment.
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