Cataracts are usually closely associated with older age, but can include much more than simply bad vision. Cataracts are a specific condition that is common as you grow older and can require effective surgical intervention by a licensed ophthalmologist.
Your eye works by focusing light into your retina using a crystal-clear lens. When a cataract forms, the lens becomes obscured and you can no longer see clearly through it. Cataracts form when the proteins that make up the lens begin to break down and clump together. Cataracts can affect different areas of the lenses and can even be congenital. Protein breakdown, coupled with natural changes in the lens like less flexibility, less transparency, and increased thickness, results in what we commonly understand as cataracts. This occurs over the course of many years, causing substantial changes in vision.
Although many people experience cataracts later in life, there are some risk factors that can increase your risk. These include:
- Excessive sunlight exposure
- High blood pressure
- Excessive drinking
- Corticosteroid use (for prolonged periods)
- Eye surgery
- Eye injury or inflammation
It’s unknown how to prevent the development of cataracts, but they can be addressed early on with regular eye exams and living a healthy lifestyle.
The most effective treatment options for cataracts are surgical options. Our ophthalmologists can perform laser cataract surgery to break up cataracts and remove the clouded lens from the eye, replacing it with an intraocular lens implant (IOL). Often, correction for other vision problems can be performed at the same time as laser cataract surgery by selecting a lens implant that can correct for conditions like astigmatism or presbyopia. Laser cataract surgery is quick, efficient, and requires little downtime.
Cataracts can often take a toll on your vision, lifestyle, and the way you see the world. During an appointment, our ophthalmologists can accurately diagnose cataracts and recommend your best treatment options. To get started, contact Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology by calling or filling out our online form.
How long does cataract surgery take?
With the latest in laser assisted technology, cataract surgery can be completed very quickly if there are no complications or considerations. The surgical step of the procedure can take as little as ten to fifteen minutes, although you’ll need to undergo a short recovery and monitoring period afterwards to allow the sedatives to wear off and ensure you’re safe enough to return home. The length of this stage can vary based on each unique patient.
How long after cataract surgery will my vision be blurry?
After cataract surgery, your vision may be blurry for the first few days before it begins to improve. You’ll be asked to wear a protective eye shield (especially at night) during this time to protect your eyes and allow for healing. After the first few days, you may notice that your vision is much more vibrant and colorful, since cataracts can produce a muted perception of colors.nnLaser cataract surgery shortens patients healing time.nLaser cataract surgery is a state-of-the-art technology that improves the precision and shortens the healing time for a patient undergoing cataract surgery. Traditionally, cataract surgery involves using blades to create the corneal incisions; using a needle and small forceps to create the opening to the cataract; and using only ultrasound energy to break up the cataract into smaller pieces for safe removal. In contrast, femto-second-assisted cataract surgery uses laser energy to create all of the corneal incisions; laser energy to create a perfect circular opening to the cataract; and laser energy to break up the cataract into even smaller pieces.nWe feel that this laser technology is superior to “standard” cataract surgery because no human can match the precision of a laser! Laser-assisted cataract surgery is also much gentler on the corneal endothelium (i.e. the “water pumps” of the cornea) which translates into faster patient recovery times. Lastly, astigmatism reduction is more precise using the laser compared to traditional methods using blades.nnWait a second, I thought all surgeons used a laser for cataract surgery?nnContrary to popular belief, most cataract surgeons do not have access or experience with laser-assisted cataract surgery, in fact most are ultrasound based. The difference is that the laser provides our patients with computer-controlled precision for their cataract surgery. It automates some of the most challenging steps of refractive cataract surgery. This femto-second laser replaces the traditional hand-held blade to optimize all incisions for enhanced, reproducible surgical results.In traditional non-laser basic cataract surgery, the surgeon makes incisions and removes the cataract using surgical instruments and blades. However, during laser cataract surgery, several of the most critical steps of the surgical process are performed using an image-guided femto-second laser.
How much does cataract surgery cost?
The cost of your cataract surgery can depend on factors like whether one or both eyes will be treated, the types of lenses used (to also correct astigmatism or presbyopia, for example), and whether you opt for laser techniques. In many cases, basic cataract surgery is covered by medical insurance, but you’ll receive a full estimate of your costs during a consultation with our ophthalmologists.
Can you wait too long to have cataract surgery?
Waiting too long for cataract surgery can result in negative effects, including a higher risk of complications during surgery and increased lifestyle risks such as accidental falls.
At what stage should cataracts be removed?
Cataracts can be removed at any stage. They should generally be removed when they begin to interfere with normal activities, such as reading or driving. Most health insurance companies will not cover the procedure until the cataract reaches a stage which impacts quality of life.
Can cataract surgery be done on both eyes at the same time?
Only one eye is operated on at a time. Once that eye heals, you can proceed to operate on the other eye. If only one eye is being affected enough by a cataract to make you want it removed, you can do surgery in that eye alone.
Are you put under anesthesia for cataract surgery?
In most cases, cataract surgery is performed under a combination of local and mild anesthesia. This means that, while you may not be fully unconscious for the procedure, you can still follow instructions from your surgeon.
How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?
Recovery after cataract surgery takes an average of four to six weeks.
What should I avoid after cataract surgery?
After cataract surgery, you must avoid rubbing the eyes, driving, strenuous activities, or applying eye makeup. Your ophthalmologist will give you complete directions to follow after your procedure.
How do you clean your eye after cataract surgery?
You never want to put anything in your eye right after surgery except for the drops given to you by your doctor. You may gently clean the area around the eye using a tissue.
What are the side effects of cataract surgery?
Side effects after cataract surgery are usually temporary and mild. They may include blurry vision during the healing process, dry eye, glares or halos, and light sensitivity. If you experience more severe side effects, you should notify your doctor immediately.