What is a cataract?
A cataract is formed when the natural lens of the eye, responsible for focusing light and producing sharp images, becomes cloudy and hardens, resulting in a loss of visual function. The lens of the eye is normally clear at birth but is one of the first parts of the body to show the effects of aging.
A cataract is painless and usually develops gradually over several months or years. Normally, the onset of a cataract in one or both eyes may cause decreased night vision, impaired depth perception, and increased color distortion.
Who is affected?
Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among adults age 55 and older. In fact, poor vision from cataracts affects 60 percent of all adults over age 60. However, cataracts can form at any age as a result of injury, heredity, or certain medications.
As we grow older, the lens gradually loses its water content and increases in density. The lens become hard in its center and the ability to focus on near objects is diminished (usually requiring bifocals by age 45). As the lens ages, it also becomes less clear. These natural processes may set the stage for cataract formation.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
An eye doctor will need to analyze patient symptoms and perform a regular eye exam. The physician will also carefully examine the eye to determine if other conditions exist and how they may affect the visual acuity. Particular attention must be given to the retina and macula to make sure that degeneration of that tissue is not contributing significantly to the loss of vision. Also, the cornea must be inspected for evidence of glaucoma.
Are there risks to delaying cataract surgery?
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients who met the criteria for cataract surgery, but declined surgery were twice as likely to have a police reported car accident in the four years of follow-up. Click here to read the study.
Can cataracts be prevented? Is there a cure?
Although a large amount of research is currently underway, no preventive measures are known for cataracts that develop with the aging process. No diets, drugs, or medicines have been proven to delay or cure the developing cataract. But a safe surgical procedure, coupled with an intraocular lens implant of appropriate power, has preserved or restored sight for millions.
What is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is among the most highly perfected, safe, and successful procedures in all of medicine. Over one million cataract operations are performed in this country every year. The surgery is most often performed with monitored anesthetic care with appropriate sedation given as necessary. It is painless and takes less than half an hour for completion. A sophisticated surgical technique, called phacoemulsification, is used to remove the cataract through a small incision. An intraocular lens is then permanently implanted into the eye. Fine-tuning the patient’s vision is performed with the appropriate choice of intraocular lens implant power. Usually, the incision is so small that it is able to heal rapidly, leaving no visible scar and eliminating the need for sutures.
What is Phacoemulsification?
Phacoemulsification is an ultrasound technique which allows the doctor to remove the clouded lens in small fragments, instead of whole. This technique permits the smallest possible incision and the shortest recovery period. In the hands of an experienced cataract surgeon, phacoemulosification also reduces the incidence of complications and produces the best possible visual results.
What is no-stitch (sutureless) cataract surgery?
No-Stitch (sutureless) cataract surgery is the most recent advance in cataract surgery. Sutureless surgery is made possible by a revolutionary new way of constructing the small phacoemulsification incision. This new type of incision is self-sealing and requires no sutures. Yet it is even stronger and heals faster than earlier types of incision, and with even fewer complications. With no-stitch surgery, cataract surgery patients are usually able to resume all normal activities within 24 hours after surgery. No-stitch or small incision surgery, combined with the latest small incision intraocular lenses, offers the cataract patient the best possible vision in the shortest possible time.
Almost all patients can have their cataracts removed using no-stitch surgery. Our surgeons have extensive experience with this technique.
How successful is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery has an overall success rate of 98 percent. Continuous innovations in cataract surgery allow cataract surgeons to treat greater numbers of patients and keep costs down without sacrificing quality or patient care.
Do I need to go to the hospital for cataract surgery?
In the past decade or two, cataract surgery has advanced to the point where new instruments, materials and techniques in skilled hands have turned what once were risky procedures into nearly routine accomplishments at minimal risk to the patinet. With few exceptions, cataract surgery can now be done on an outpatient basis without the former long periods of immobilization and extended hospital supervision. Since 1985, in fact, Medicare has mandated that all cataract surgery be performed on an outpatient basis except in cases of specific medical necessity for inpatient hospitalization.
Why should I go to the Florida Eye Institute for my cataract surgery instead of a traditional hospital?
The Florida Eye Institute has its own outpatient surgery center on-site. Unlike the operating rooms in a general hospital or even in a general surgery center setting, the operating rooms at the Florida Eye Institute are specially designed for eye surgery and our staff is especially trained for it. We are able to respond quickly to our surgeons’ and our patients’ needs for newer and more advanced equipment.
The Florida Eye Institute is a total eye care facility. We encourage scheduling flexibility and availability, making delays for surgery far less likely. The totality and continuity of care at the Florida Eye Institute affords significant benefits to our patients, since all of our services - surgical, medical, and educational - are available under one roof and are prescribed, performed, and managed by one staff, trained and dedicated to our specialty. The entire surgical experience at the Florida Eye Institute has been designed to help patients and their familes be as comfortable as possible. The “patient first, family friendly” approach is at the heart of the surgery experience.
What happens during cataract surgery at the Florida Eye Institute?
Before surgery, you may receive some medication to help you relax. At the Florida Eye Institute, we use local anesthesia for cataract surgery. An intravenous is started and then just the eye is numbed, usually with eye drops (topical anesthesia). The patient remains awake but feels no pain. Many patients are so comfortable they doze off to sleep. Blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart tracing are monitored by our on-staff anesthesia staff. In the operating room, the area around the eye will be cleansed and sterile drapes will be put over much of your face. You will be provided with plenty of oxygen to enable you to breathe easily under the drapes. You do not need to worry about blinking or seeing out of the eye being operated on because the local anesthetic used to put the eye to sleep prevents this. Our surgeons use a powerful surgical microscope and precision microsurgical instruments to enable them to operate on the delicate structures within your eye. Surgery will take approximately 10 minutes.
What postoperative care is required?
After having one of the most delicate microsurgical operations in modern medicine, you should be able to resume most activities almost immediately. However, some care is necessary to ensure proper healing and to avoid unnecessary complications. The staff at the Florida Eye Institute is always available to answer any questions regarding your postoperative instructions.
How does cataract surgery improve quality of life?
Cataract surgery has provided improved quality of life for millions of Americans by increasing their independence through improved vision. With improved vision comes the ability to work, watch television, and drive safely.
click here to download Lens Consult for Cataract Information Package