Cataract is derived from the Latin cataracta, meaning waterfall.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the naturally clear lens inside the human eye. As the opacification of the lens progresses, the quality of vision that one experiences deteriorates. Symptoms can initially be mild; and can include: difficulty while driving at night time, light sensitivity, double vision, and blurry vision at all distances, even with spectacle correction.
Cataracts are the most common cause of blurred vision in those over the age of 50. Once cataracts are visually significant, the definitive treatment is cataract surgery with implantation of a permanent intraocular lens.
When do I need cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is an elective procedure. Surgery should be considered when the loss of vision interferes with your daily activities such as: driving, reading medication labels, painting, or watching television. As each person has different visual needs, the decision to proceed with surgery is individualized and should be discussed with your surgeon.
How is surgery performed?
Most cataract surgery is performed under topical or “twilight” anesthesia. You will be receiving anesthesia through an IV and your surgeon will instill anesthetic in your eye so that you do not feel pain or discomfort. An anesthesiologist will also be present to ensure that your entire surgical experience is anxiety and pain free. During the surgery, your surgeon will be operating through a microscope and micro-instruments will be used to cut into the eye in order to remove the cataract and place a permanent lens implant. After the surgery, you can go home the same day and immediately resume most of your regular activities. The vast majority of patients are fully recovered within a week.
The traditional method of performing surgery involves the surgeon using blades to cut inside the eye. A new method of performing cataract surgery utilizes femto-second laser to perform the cutting portion of the surgery. There are also several options for lens implants that can correct near-sightedness, far-sightedness, presbyopia and astigmatism. You can make these decisions with your surgeon at the time of consultation.