A cataract occurs when the natural lens in your eye becomes cloudy. Normally, light passes through the cornea (clear outer surface of your eye), through your pupil and then through the lens. The lens helps you see clearly by focusing the light onto the retina. Cataracts obstruct the passage of light and thereby impair your vision. They usually develop slowly and pain free leaving many people unaware of their gradual loss of clear vision in one or both eyes. After the cataract is removed, an artificial lens implant is inserted. The replacement lens is much smaller than a dime and has been corrected to meet your eye’s specific refractive needs.


Am I at risk?

The largest risk factor for cataract development is age. About half of all Americans ages 65 to 75 have cataracts to some degree. Other factors may increase your risk for cataract development:

  • Diabetes
  • A strong family history of cataracts
  • Previous eye injury
  • Certain medications (corticosteroids)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Excessive sunlight exposure
  • Smoking

Symptoms include:

  • Blurred or dimmed vision
  • Poor night vision with halos or glare
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Reduced distance vision
  • Brighter light needed to read
  • Frequent eyeglass prescription changes
  • Excessive blinking

How is the procedure performed?

Cataract surgery is typically done on an outpatient basis and usually takes about 15 minutes. Generally, local anesthesia is used. The cataract is removed through microsurgery. Your eye's natural lens capsule is left in place to help support the artificial replacement lens that is inserted during the procedure.

Phacoemulsification (FAY-co-ee-mul-sih-fih-CAY-shun) is the newer, more common form of extracapsular surgery in which a specially designed instrument is used to emulsify the cataract with ultrasound waves. The pieces are then vacuumed out. Only a very small incision - about 1/8 inch - is required in phacoemulsification. This procedure, commonly referred to as "phaco," is now the most common form of cataract surgery in the United States.

What can I expect after surgery?

After cataract surgery, you may wear a protective shield at bedtime for the first week. Recovery time is generally minimal. Your eye may be mildly inflamed and feel a little scratchy and irritated for a couple of days after the procedure. Normal activities can usually be restarted immediately after surgery.

Although incredibly successful, cataract surgery can not guarantee 20/20 vision when there are unrelated coexisting problems including age related macular degeneration. But for many people, successful cataract surgery can mean that they can again fully enjoy activities that otherwise were limited by poor vision.

Can I have laser vision correction after cataract surgery?

Laser vision correction, LASIK AND ASA, can be used to fine tune previous cataract surgery to improve the level of vision and decrease or eliminate the need for glasses.



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