Cataracts

Are you noticing blurred vision? Are you noticing increased difficulty with night time driving? These are some of the common symptoms of cataracts.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is when the naturally clear lens in your eye gets clouded. NEI.gov states that more than half of all Americans over age 80 have or have had cataract surgery.

Where is the lens located in the eye?

The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus a clear image onto the retina and therefore give us clear vision. In addition to the lens, our cornea also helps to focus images clearly. Light passes through the cornea and then through the lens, ultimately focusing on the retina. If a cataract is present, then rays of light will not pass through the lens cleanly. Instead, the cloudy lens will inhibit appropriate transmission or even scatter the light causing glare or blur.

On our next blog, we will discuss treatment options.

Last time we talked about cataracts. Today, we will talk about surgical options.

Cataract surgery was first performed in 500 BC. The technique was called couching. Originally this method used a strong blunt force to dislocate the lens from its natural position and thus allowing it to drop to rest on the bottom of the eye. (Photo courtesy of nei.nih.gov)

Modern-day surgery has come a long way. It is an out-patient surgery. The surgery typically lasts 10-15 minutes. The eye is numbed and then a very small cut is made on the side of the eye. Then, an ultrasonic probe is used to gently break up the lens and suction it out of the eye.

A new, synthetic lens made of silicone or acrylic is then implanted into the eye. The synthetic lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs were first FDA-approved in the 1980’s. Prior to IOLs, people had to wear very thick glasses to account for the natural lens that was removed from the eye.

Next time we will talk about different IOL options.

Intraocular lens (IOL) implants come in a variety of designs. The typical IOL is a monofocal IOL. This type will only have one power, therefore it will generally provide clear vision at only one distance, either near or far. This is the most common lOL used. Monofocal IOLs are covered by major medical insurance.

There are other lens options, but they are an additional fee above what is covered by medical insurance. Therefore, these options are called Premium IOLS. Premiums IOLs include Toric and Presbyopic lenses.

A toric lens is designed to correct astigmatism prescriptions. Astigmatism is when vision is stretched in one direction, by correcting astigmatism then the vision will provide sharp and well-defined vision.

A Presbyopic lens allows focusing at multiple distances, not just one, like the monofocal IOL. Presbyopic IOLs utilize different optical designs to provide the ability to focus at multiple distances. Some the lenses will bend light more/less depending on the distance to provide a clear image. Other presbyopic IOLS will actually move inside of the eye giving multiple fixations.

This concludes our 3-part series on cataracts. If you feel your vision isn’t as clear as you want, please call to schedule a cataract consultation with one of our residency-trained doctors.

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