A cataract is a painless clouding of the lens in the eye, which can blur your vision and interfere with your life. Eye injury and certain diseases or medications can cause cataracts. In the majority of cases, however, cataracts are caused by the natural aging of the eye. Fortunately, this common vision problem can be treated by an outpatient procedure.
If you feel you may have a cataract, the first step is to get an evaluation. At our office we will perform several tests to check your vision and rule out other problems. If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, bring them to the exam so our doctors can check the prescription. During the exam, our doctors will also evaluate your ocular heatlh with a silt lamp and dilated fundus exam. If a cataract is found, a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription may improve your vision for awhile. However, if your cataract inteferes with your daily activities, surgery will be recommended. Together you and our doctors will decide what is best for you.
If you decide on cataract surgery, the length of your eyeball will be measured with a tool called an A-scan. An A-scan helps us select a new lens to replace your cloudy lens. It's a painless procedure that uses soundwaves to measure the length of your eye.
After the measurements are taken, our surgical coordinator can discuss scheduling and pre-op requirements with you.
Once the pre-op requirements are completed, Dr. Schwartz will perform your surgery at a surgical center. The surgery is done on one eye at a time and often takes less than one hour. Most people can go home the same day as the surgery. You will be asked not to eat or drink the night before the surgery. Right before the surgery, you will take drops to dilate and numb your eye and receive medication to help you relax.
To remove the cloudy lens from your eye, a small incision is made. In most cases this incision is self-healing and does not require stitches. The most common methods for removing a cataract are phacoemulsification and extracapsular extraction. Phacoemulsification uses sound vibrations (ultrasound) to break the lens into small pieces for removal. The extracapsular extraction removes the entire lens at once.
After the cloudy lens is removed, a new plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens) replaces it. There are several types of IOLs: monofocal, multifocal, and toric (astigmatic). Dr. Schwartz will choose the IOL that best fits your visual needs.
After the surgery, a bandage/shield is placed over your treated eye. This shield is removed during your one-day post-op exam. Drops are prescribed to guard against infection and help the eyes heal. The success of the process greatly depends on patient compliance and follow-up examinations. At our office we strive to thoroughly educate our patients to ensure optimum success.
Once you have fully recovered, you will receive a new eyeglass prescription. In most cases, glasses are needed only for limited tasks.
After follow-up care is completed, it is important to recognize that regular eye exams are essential for maintaining good vision and eye health.
For more information on cataracts and cataract surgery, please view our eye health resources page or call our office.