When cataracts begin to threaten a person's vision, ophthalmologists often recommend lens replacement surgery. Cataracts
obstruct the passage of light into the eye by causing clouding of the lens. Even when patients are not yet aware
of the condition doctors can detect cataracts by examining pupil dilation along with a vision test.
Most cases of cataracts develop as a result of growing old. The elderly, people with diabetes and those with a
family history of cataracts are the most at risk for the condition. The early signs of cataracts are blurry or
clouded vision, seeing spots or double vision, reduced vision at night and visible clouding in the pupil.
Cataracts are a progressive condition meaning that it will typically get
worse over time. The worsening condition can usually be seen in the afflicted person's eyes. It is recommended
that you see an ophthalmologist on a consistent basis to gauge how quickly the cataracts are progressing. Let
your doctor know immediately if your eyesight deteriorates so much that you are having difficulty performing
your normal routine tasks are difficult to accomplish.
At risk individuals are urged to see their eye doctor regularly since early detection is a key factor in
treating cataracts. Cataract surgery is a common outpatient procedure and is among the safest and most successful
surgeries performed. The procedure ordinarily only takes a few hours from prep time to finish. With modern cataract
eye surgical treatment, cloudy vision can be dealt with and repaired an earlier phase of the condition thereby
preserving most of the patient's vision. The surgery has a very high success rate and most patients with otherwise
healthy eyes can enjoy better eyesight following the lens replacement.
It is estimated that over a million people a year have surgery to treat cataracts. These surgeries have, for the
most part, a very good track record for success. The goal is to remove the actual cataract. In the most prevalent
procedure today, the eye surgeon makes a small incision through which a device is inserted and, using ultrasound
waves, proceeds to break down the cataract into minuscule particles which are literally washed away from the eye.
Of course, the first thing that the surgeon will do is treat the eye with a special anesthetic which allows work to
be done without discomfort or involuntary twitching.
After cataracts are extracted, the doctor can replace it with an intraocular lens implant. The implant is then
positioned in place via the incision on the rim of the cornea where the cataracts were removed. This new
replacement lens is a clear piece of material that is designed to function just like the original lens that it is
replacing. The type of lens that will be used will depend on the characteristics of the patient's eye as well as
the condition of their eyesight.
Since it is outpatient procedure, patients generally can leave the doctor's office an hour or so after the
surgery. It is strongly recommended that the patient is driven home by someone as a matter of precaution. Usually,
prescription eye drops are given and a protective patch is worn, mostly to prevent rubbing they eye. In most cases
the surgeon will have the patient come in to the office the next day for an evaluation. Regardless of the fact that
healing times will vary from person to person, based on their age an health, the majority of people are able to
resume their normal routine within a couple of days after the surgery.
Until relatively recently, there were not many options or different types of lens implants that could be used.
Lens implants were exclusively monofocal lenses. A monofocal lens implant can facilitate improved vision after the
surgery, however only for a limited range of distance. This type of improvement typically means that driving,
sightseeing and seeing things at a distance were noticeably improved, however for activities like reading or
anything else up close the patient may still need to wear glasses.
A new development is the multifocal lens implant. As its name implies, this type of implant can provide clear
vision for a range of different distances. Now patients can possibly benefit from this surgery in two ways: 1) the
cataracts that were obscuring their vision are removed; and 2) they may actually experience an improved range of
vision. There are several different brands of replacement multifocal lenses available such as ReSTOR, ReZoom and Crystalens. A multifocal lens implant can enable some patients to have
improved vision and lessen their dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
The ReSTOR Intraocular Lens is a permanent synthetic lens which can precisely focus images at varying distances
without movement of the lens. It features modern technology that delivers better vision with negligible image
perturbations. It is effective for presbyopia (farsightedness) subsequent to cataract surgery. Crystalens is an
artificial intraocular lens that is silicone based. This material functions in tandem with the ocular muscles to
impart a wider range of focus than earlier types of lenses. Greater flexibility allows greater focusing power on
moving objects that are changing in distance to the subject.
On the whole, those patients fitted with a monofocal lens implant have the cataracts and blurred
vision resolved, however they will still likely be required to wear glasses in some instances. When multifocal lens
implants are used it is a safe assumption that there will be an added benefit which is reducing the need for
Age related vision loss is a natural and normal process. We all experience some deterioration in our eyesight
over time. For those at risk for cataracts regular ophthalmologist visits are key to early detection. This is also
important for those who begin to notice clouding in their vision. For advanced cataracts people can consult with
their eye doctor about the various options for lens replacement to deal with the problem.