Cataracts occur as part of the normal aging process. Studies show that virtually everyone over age 65 has some cataract formation in their eyes! Cataracts can severely reduce your vision. At one time, cataracts were a leading cause of blindness in the world. But today, fortunately they can be treated. Modern surgical techniques, intraocular lens implantation and "same day surgery" make cataract surgery safe, fast and effective.
A cataract occurs when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy. As the cataract develops, the cloudiness no longer allows the lens to properly focus light on the back of the eye. This unfocused light causes the vision to look blurry or hazy. Development of cataracts has been associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. They are particularly prevalent in persons who spend a lot of time in the sun, such as fisherman. There is nothing you can do to prevent the formation of cataracts.
Treatment is indicated when decreased vision affects your everyday activities or hobbies. To determine how much your vision is decreased, your doctor should test you with a new test called contrast sensitivity. This test determines how much your everyday vision has been affected by the cataract.
.Cataract surgery, in which the normal cloudy lens is removed, is now a very successful procedure. The most widely used technique is called phacoemulsification. A very small incision is made and a tiny ultrasonic probe is used to break up the cataract and gently suction it away. A clear membrane is left in your eye where an
intraocular lens is placed (IOL). This IOL is necessary to replace the focusing power of the natural lens, which was removed. With insertion of an IOL, there is little need for thick cataract glasses and contact lenses that were used years ago.
Small incision surgery has several benefits. The procedure is very quick, sometimes taking less than 20 minutes. Also, recovery time is short. Patients are able to eat a light snack and drink immediately after the surgery. The results of the surgery are almost immediate. Most people notice an improvement in their vision soon after surgery. You will still need glasses to read after the surgery. Your new prescription is given several weeks after the procedure.
Cataract Surgery and Lens Implantation
The eye is a marvelous optical instrument which takes the images from the real-world and focuses them on a tiny spot in the back of the eye. The ability to focus these images comes from two parts of the eye, the lens of the eye and the front cover of the eye, or the cornea. The lens accounts for about 1/3 of the focusing power.
Cataract Surgery Procedure
Cataract surgery is a procedure that removes the cloudy lens from the eye. Today, this procedure can be accomplished very quickly and no stitches are needed. A local anesthetic is used and the surgeon makes a small incision in the outer covering of the eye. Then a technique is used, called phacoemulsification, which removes the lens through the small incision.
At least 95% of the patients receive an artificial lens implant after the cataract is removed. This lens is called an intraocular lens or IOL and is made from the same plastic as certain types of contact lenses. In some cases, a special tiny foldable IOL is used for implantation. This type of lens is inserted into the eye through a very small opening, only 1/8th inch. Once in the eye, the lens unfolds to its full size.
The IOL replaces the 1/3 of the eye's focusing power of the natural lens. Without this lens, the eye cannot focus. In a small number of cases, an IOL is not used and the patients must wear glasses or contact lenses to help them see. IOLs are beneficial because they are permanent in the eye. They do not get lost, like glasses, or have to be replaced, like contact lenses. Also, many times the focusing power of the IOL can be determined so that it closely matches your eye. With an IOL, glasses for distance vision may not be needed.
This cataract surgery technique has many benefits. No hospital stay is needed, there is no pain, no injections are required, there is quick recovery and the vision after surgery is typically very good.
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