Cataracts are the number one cause of vision loss in the United States. The condition is quite common for adults aged 40 and up, and generally develops slowly over time.
Many people who get cataracts don’t even notice the condition until their symptoms become severe. The good news is that cataracts are treatable. If you do begin to develop cataracts and lose vision, this can be reversed with cataract surgery!
Cataract surgery is one of the most common medical procedures in the country. Keep reading for a brief guide explaining some of the basics of cataracts and cataract surgery!
What is a Cataract?
Cataracts occur when the eye’s crystalline lens, which is responsible for focusing light onto the retina, becomes cloudy. Cataracts develop as a natural side-effect of aging.
As we age, the chemicals in our body change. A chemical change can affect many parts of the body in different ways. One of the ways it affects the eye is by making normally clear cells in the lens more opaque.
As the lens becomes more clouded, it becomes more difficult for light to pass into the eye, causing gradual vision loss.
When to Get Surgery
Cataracts cause a variety of symptoms. These can include blurry vision, light sensitivity, poor night vision, glare, and halos. These symptoms can be very mild at first, but often they get worse over time as the cataract develops.
Doctors recommend patients get cataract surgery when cataracts affect your quality of life. Your eye doctor will help determine the best time for you to have your cataracts removed.
Cataract surgery is performed as outpatient surgery and normally takes only 30 minutes. Cataract surgery is intended to remove the clouded lens of the eye and replace it with an artificial lens implant, called an intraocular lens, to provide clear vision.
Before cataract surgery, you’ll receive IV sedation from our trained nurses, which will help to ensure that you are comfortable and relaxed throughout the cataract procedure.
During surgery, the cataract surgeon makes a small incision in the eye through the cornea to access the lens. Using ultrasound, the clouded lens is broken into microscopic particles, which are gently suctioned from the eye.
The artificial lens is then inserted through the same incision. Due to the eye’s natural pressure, stitches are not needed to close the incision.
At the Nielsen Eye Center, we offer patients in the greater Boston area access to both laser cataract surgery and traditional cataract surgery.
What is an IOL?
An IOL is an artificial lens that replaces the eye’s natural lens. IOLs come in several varieties. At the Nielsen Eye Center, we offer both single focus IOLs and multi-focus IOLS.
Single focus IOLs correct distance vision only and require patients to still wear reading glasses, bifocals, or progressive glasses following their procedure.
Multifocal IOLS are able to give patients clear vision at multiple distances, often eliminating the need for reading glasses.
There is no IOL that is “best” for every patient. It all depends on what the patient’s needs and preferences are. Multifocal lenses are not covered by insurance, while traditional (single) focus IOLS are.
Your surgeon will be able to tell you what options are available at your cataract screening. They can discuss what may be best for your needs, as well as their recommendations for you.
Think it may be time for you to get cataract surgery? Would you like to find out? Contact the Nielsen Eye Center in Greater Boston to schedule a cataract screening!