Cataracts affect more than 20 million Americans over the age of 40. The proportion of seniors over the age of 80 affected by the disease surpasses 50 percent, and the visually impairing disease affects nearly 100 percent of seniors over the age of 95.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. It is largely a result of the aging process; however, other contributing factors can accelerate the disease, such as diabetes, smoking, UV light exposure and steroid medications. The clouding can vary in degree and may result in one appearing to see through a frosty or fogged-up window. This progressive change can make it more difficult to read, drive a car or even see the expression on a friend’s face. Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb eyesight early on, but with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with vision.
Fortunately, the treatment of cataracts has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years. Cataract surgery involves removing the natural lens of the eye that has become cloudy and opaque, and implanting an artificial lens, typically made of acrylic. Today, cataract patients can choose how they want the cataract removed and how they want to see after surgery.
How Do You Want Your Cataract Removed?
The method of removing a cataract has advanced tremendously. Patients are now able to choose between the traditional method of cataract surgery involving handheld blades and instruments or an advanced laser-assisted, bladeless surgery, known as ReLACS. Traditionally, incisions in the cornea are made using handheld blades to access the cataract. ReLACS (Refractive Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery) uses femto-second laser technology to precisely create all incisions, break-up and soften the hard cataract, and reduce astigmatism. Patients do very well with both procedures, however the accuracy and reproducibility of the femto-second laser allows for more predictable and precise visual outcomes.
How Do You Want To See After Surgery?
At the time of your cataract surgery, you will receive an intraocular lens implant (IOL). Traditionally, the need for glasses was almost a given after cataract surgery, but over the past five years, technology within cataract surgery has experienced tremendous growth. Now, we are not only able to correct your cataract, but we are able to correct your vision at the same time. Choices include a standard monofocal IOL, a Toric IOL, and a Multifocal IOL. The standard monofocal design is a single-vision lens so most patients will need glasses to optimize their vision for near, intermediate, and far distances. For patients with astigmatism, the Toric IOL significantly reduces, and may even eliminate, this type of refractive error. Lastly, for patients desiring independence from glasses, the Multifocal IOL is today’s holy grail of post-operative vision. For the right candidate, these lenses give great, get-around vision – near, intermediate, and far vision – all without the need for spectacles.