What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. Most cataracts are just part of growing up – if we live long enough we are all going to get cataracts. In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. There are some risk factors for earlier cataract formation – such as diabetes, smoking, and the long-term use of some medications such as steroids.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
The symptoms of cataract include cloudy vision, dull faded colors, difficulty reading or driving (especially at night), and glare. If you develop those symptoms, then you should consult your ophthalmologist who can perform a comprehensive eye exam and measure your eyes for the corrective intra-ocular lens implant - or IOL.
What happens during cataract surgery?
Most cataract surgery is done in an outpatient setting without an overnight stay. Eye drops are usually used to anesthetize the eye and sedation is administered for relaxation. During the procedure, ultrasound is customarily used to remove the cataract and a corrective lens implant is placed into the eye. It can be considered lens replacement surgery. There are a number of new technology lens implants that can reduce the need for glasses after surgery. Of course there are risks associated with any surgery - including cataract surgery, so it is important to discuss these with your ophthalmologist.
What is posterior capsular opacification?
Although cataracts do not grow back, months to years after cataract surgery, the natural membrane that envelops the lens implant can get cloudy or wrinkled. When this happens a laser procedure, called a YAG laser, can be performed - without the need for an incision - to clear up the vision. There is no interruption in physical activity after a YAG, and visual improvement can be almost immediate.