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What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the naturally clear lens of your eye, located inside of the eye directly behind the colored part of your eye- the iris. Cataracts are a normal part of aging but for some individuals can lead to gradual loss of vision interfering with normal daily activities such as reading, driving at night, or enjoyment of hobbies. The surgeons at Ophthalmology Consultants can restore normal vision by surgically removing the cloudy lens (cataract) using an ultrasound procedure called phacoemulsification and inserting a clear artificial lens (intraocular lens implant).

Do I have a choice as to what type of implant I receive?

In the past, the choice of implant was really made by the cataract surgeon. All implants were of a type called a monofocal lens implant. A monofocal implant provides excellent vision after cataract surgery but only at one set distance, usually for seeing things at a distance. Therefore, reading glass are usually needed after surgery with such traditional monofocal implants. However, advancement of technology over the past several years has allowed for the development of multifocal lens implants now making possible the correction of vision at all ranges, delivering a high level of glasses-free vision.

The experienced surgeons of Ophthalmology Consultants are pleased to offer all three currently FDA approved multifocal, “presbyopia correcting” intraocular lens implants: ReSTOR, ReZoom and Crystalens. Although not all patients are candidates for these advanced lenses, many patients now have an opportunity to significantly reduce their dependency on glasses following cataract surgery. If you are interested in this upgraded lens implant, ask your surgeon which lens would be best for your individual needs.

What to Expect

Prior to lens replacement surgery

During your office visit a comprehensive eye health exam will be performed and your eye will be measured to determine the proper power of the intraocular lens that will be placed in your eye. Our surgery coordinators will give you prescriptions for eye drops and instructions about caring for your eyes after the operation. She will schedule an appointment for one day after surgery and one week after surgery.

The day of your procedure

Your lens replacement (cataract) surgery will be performed in an outpatient surgery center. Plan to be at the surgery for approximately three hours on surgery day. You will need a responsible adult to remain at the surgery center for the entire duration of your stay and drive you home.

You will be given medications to relax you and numb your eyes. A local anesthetic will make the operation virtually painless. The skin around your eyes will be thoroughly cleansed and sterile coverings will be placed around your head. A tiny incision is made into the eye under the upper lid and the capsule of the cataract lens itself is opened. The hardened, cloudy portion of the cataract is gently broken up by emulsification and the remaining soft portion is vacuumed out with suction. The clear posterior membrane of the lens is left in place to protect the retina. The lens implant is folded to allow insertion through the small incision and inserted into the capsular bag. The incision may need to be closed with an absorbable suture.

Sometimes a hazy membrane can develop behind the implanted lens in the eye months to yours after surgery. This can be treated with a simple laser procedure.

After your procedure

When the operation is over we will place a shield over your eye. After a short stay in the recovery area, you will be ready to go home.

You will require sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes for a short period. No eye patch or dressing is needed during the day. At night, for a period of a week, you will tape a metal shield over the eye to protect it. Most normal activity, including driving, may be resumed soon after surgery.

Possible side effects

Side effects include redness, scratchiness, and light sensitivity. You may have glare, rings around lights, and blurred vision. These side effects may make it more difficult to see while driving at night or working in low light for a period of time after your procedure. These side effects generally resolve over time.

See the surgery center brochure for more information about pre-operative testing and other instructions for preparing for your lens replacement procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should a cataract be removed?

It is up to the patient to decide when a cataract should be removed. There is no stage in cataract development which automatically requires cataract surgery. The idea that a cataract must be “ripe” or mature before surgery is old-fashioned and does not apply to modern surgery.

Since everyone has different vision requirements for work, recreation and hobbies, each individual can best determine when the cataract is significantly interfering with his or her visual needs. In other words, cataract surgery only becomes necessary when the loss of vision in interferes with each patient’s unique visual requirements.

If your vision is worse than 20/40 then you do not qualify for an unrestricted drivers’ license and you should have cataract surgery if you still drive.

What are the risks cataract surgery?

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved. These risks may include infection, retinal detachment, an increase in eye pressure, reactions to medicines and vision changes.

There is a small chance that your vision could be made worse by the operation, especially if bleeding or infection occur. These risks are rare and should be weighed against the potential benefits of restoring your vision. Please read the informed consent that is provided for additional information.

Should I have a lens replacement in both eyes?

You will get the full benefit of a multifocal or accommodating IOL when it is implanted in both eyes.