In the eye, the natural crystalline lens focuses light rays on the retina to produce an image. At birth, the lens is clear. With time, the lens starts to get cloudy and obstruct light. This cloudy lens is known as a cataract and can diminish vision. Fortunately, cataract treatments and surgery are available to restore clear vision. By replacing the natural lens with an intraocular lens during cataract surgery , patients can reduce or eliminate their need for glasses or contacts following the procedure.
With mild cataracts, there is often a shift in your glasses prescription. Most patients become more nearsighted (myopic). This change may cause difficulty with distance vision as well as visual side effects such as glare with night driving. Often, a minor change in your glasses or contact lens prescription will improve your vision sufficiently so that you can perform your daily activities. It is important to realize that as the cataract progresses, your glasses prescription may need to be updated. At Eye Doctors of Washington, we recommend that mild cataracts be observed every six to 12 months.
At some point, changes in the glasses prescription will not be sufficient to improve your vision as the cataract becomes more significant. The only effective treatment is to remove the cloudy lens. Fortunately, modern cataract surgery is safe and effective with excellent results and minimal discomfort. At EDOW, we offer our patients Laser Cataract Surgery and Traditional Cataract Surgery options.
There are no remedies shown to prevent cataracts. Recent clinical studies have shown that the use of Vitamin C may slow the progression of cataracts. We recommend the use of at least 100 units of Vitamin C. This amount is present in most daily multi-vitamin supplements. It is important to realize that excessive amounts of vitamins can be hazardous to your health. At the recommended dosage, Vitamin C is quite safe for most individuals. If you have any questions or concerns about the use of vitamins, you should contact your family physician or internist prior to initiating cataract treatment.
The following are answers to frequently asked questions provided to help you better understand the cataract eye surgery procedures offered at our practice locations.
A cataract is an extremely common condition that typically occurs as a person gets older and gradually clouds their vision. Although it may not be completely preventable, it can help to adopt a diet rich in vitamins E and C, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin. In addition, refraining from tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption can help slow the development of cataracts in the future. Since a number of factors can influence your risk of developing cataracts, you should routinely visit your eye doctor and seek treatment for cataracts earlier rather than later to maintain optimal vision.
Many cataract surgery patients visiting our offices worry that they may be too old for the procedure; however, with new technological advances almost all patients meet the criteria for these outpatient surgeries. We have operated on many patients over the age of 100!
Yes, an overall evaluation of your health and some routine physical test are required prior to cataract surgery. Our surgical coordinator will provide you with the necessary forms that need to be filled out by your physician. If you do not have a physician, our staff will assist you in finding a doctor close to your home.
No, if both eyes have developed cataracts, typically only one will be operated on at a time. The second eye is usually treated within a couple weeks after the first procedure. By removing the cataracts in separate procedures, this allows you to maintain your normal vision in one eye while your other proceeds to heal and improve.
No, you will remain awake during cataract surgery since it is a relatively quick process. Our surgeons utilize the latest surgical techniques to provide the most precise and streamlined process possible, and will give you a topical anesthetic to numb your eye. This maximizes your comfort during the procedure while also improving your safety since general anesthesia is not necessary.
Minimal discomfort is typically experienced by our patients due to the use of a topical anesthetic to numb the eye. Our goal is to ensure you are relaxed during the entire process, which is quicker than many people realize. During the surgery, you may notice a sensation of scratchiness or a foreign object, which is very normal. Following the surgery, you may develop a mild headache for the first day, but if you experience any severe pain, you should report it to your doctor immediately.
Since each patient’s vision is different, a measurement must be taken to determine the length of the eye and the curvature of the cornea. Advanced mathematical formulas are used to the calculate the optimal IOL.
After cataract surgery, you will be taken to the recovery area and given detailed instructions on how to optimize your recovery time. Since the incisions required for cataract surgery are so small, there are typically no stitches or patches required. During the first three weeks, medicated eye drops will be used to assist in the healing process. You will then have a follow-up appointment to determine if you will require prescription lenses, such as reading glasses.Your cataract surgeon will also monitor your recovery to ensure no complications arise. As with any type of surgery, there are some risks involved in cataract surgery. However, complications occur in far less than 1% of all cataract surgery patients who do not have any pre-existing conditions, and most complications associated with cataract surgery are treatable. Your surgeon will provide you with more detailed information about the risks associated with cataract surgery during the consultation process.
No, you will need to arrange someone to drive you to and from your appointment since your vision will be blurry from your eye being dilated and numbed.
While patients having standard or toric IOLs implanted for distance vision will still need to wear reading glasses after surgery, many patients can experience clear vision at all distances using the multifocal IOLs. Your surgeon can tell you if you are a candidate for this specialty type of lens.
Some cataract surgery patients will experience a clouding around the newly implanted lens, which can diminish their visual acuity or create a glare. This condition, known as posterior capsular opacification, occurs in about 20-33% of patients, and can manifest months or years following surgery. However, the condition is often easily remedied with a laser treatment called YAG capsulotomy. This procedure is quick, virtually painless, requires no downtime, and patients can return to their normal activities immediately.
Cataract surgery, like any surgical procedure, carries with it the potential for risks and complications. Though rare, the possible risks of surgery include: bleeding, postoperative infection, severe corneal edema, retinal detachment, permanent dilation of the pupil, and even loss of vision. Other complications include the development of astigmatism and drooping of the upper eyelid, both of which are treatable. Cataract surgery is a common procedure and we make every effort to minimize the chance for any problems to occur during or after surgery. Please read the cataract consent form for a complete list of risks.
Cataract surgery is necessary in order to remove a cataract that has begun to form. However, daily intake of Vitamin C may slow the progression of cataracts. At Eye Doctors of Washington, we recommend that patients take 100 units of Vitamin C. This amount is present in most daily multi-vitamin supplements and safe for most individuals. However, keep in mind that excessive amounts of vitamins can be hazardous to your health. If you have questions or concerns about your vitamin intake, contact your physician.
If you have additional questions or would like more information about LASIK or cataract eye surgery offered at our practice, contact us today.
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