Cataracts is clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging and are very common in older people.
Just like with a camera, the eye contains a lens to help you to focus on things whether they are nearby or far away. To work well, the lens must be clear. As you age, the lens of your eye gradually becomes cloudy and is called a cataract.
Looking through a cloudy lens is like looking through a dirty window — everything is blurred. Occasionally, patients with cataracts notice difficulty with reading and driving at night, halos or glare around lights and a general reduction in color and contrast in all conditions.
Everyone who lives into their 60s develops at least mild cataracts. Early on, the cataract not only makes your vision cloudy, it also makes your lens a little thicker and typically, more near-sighted. So in the early stages of cataract, changing your eyeglass prescription may improve your vision.
But as you continue to get older, the cataract becomes cloudier that not even a change in your eyeglass prescription will improve your sight. At that point, the only way to restore your vision is to remove the cataract and replace it with a clear lens.
Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure performed on adults in the world with over half of all people over 80 having undergone cataract surgery. At Florida Eye Clinic, we are committed to using latest technology in treatment of cataracts. Dr Stephen Ume performs the procedure in an outpatient surgery center using a “no-stitch, clear cornea” technique. The procedure uses ultrasound energy to break up a patient’s natural lens and generally takes less than 40 minutes with recovery within a few days. He has performed a lot of these surgeries.
Cataract surgery is a two-step procedure—first Dr Ume removes your cloudy lens, and second, he inserts a new lens implant into your eye. The cloudy lens is removed with a tiny instrument that enters your eye through a small incision— less than one-eighth of an inch —and gently breaks the cataract into tiny pieces that are then removed from the eye with a miniature vacuum cleaner.
Once the cataract is out, you will need a new lens in order to focus after surgery. Artificial lens implants—made of plastic-like materials—are used to restore your ability to focus after surgery. These implants come in many different strengths, like eyeglasses. Before your cataract operation, we will perform several measurements to determine the appropriate lens implant strength to custom fit your eye.
Modern cataract surgery offers the opportunity to not only improve the vision but to significantly reduce the need for eyeglasses. Today, implants are available to improve both the distance and near vision (Restor lens). Other lenses are made to reduce the astigmatism (Toric lens) or visual distortion from the “football” shape of the front of the eye.
Once your cataract is out and your implant is in, the operation is over. Most people see better within a day or two after cataract surgery, but it is not abnormal or worrisome if your vision seems blurry for a few weeks after surgery as your eye heals. We will prescribe some eye drops for the healing period after surgery, and if you need new eyeglasses after surgery, these will be prescribed for you once your eye is completely healed, usually about a month after surgery.
Cataracts cannot grow back, but sometimes a thin cloudy membrane grows behind the lens implant, making your vision blurry like a cataract. This is not uncommon—it happens to roughly 40 percent of patients having cataract surgery. If it happens to you, a quick and simple laser treatment can be performed in the office to make a hole in the membrane for you to see through.
These are references for more information regarding cataracts and cataract surgery:
National Eye Institute
American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons