A cataract is a loss of transparency or a "clouding" of
the lens within the eye. The normal job of the lens is
to focus incoming light onto the retina of the eye so
that we can see sharp and clear images.
Cataracts are the number one cause of vision loss in
people aged 55 and older. A cataract is the result of
the normal aging process and depending upon our
individual "genetic codes," there is a point in our
lives when each and every one of us would develop a
cataract. For some of us, cataracts might begin
developing in our 50's while others might have to live
to be a 100 before developing cataracts. Other things
including injuries, certain types of medicines and
diseases such as diabetes can cause or hasten the
development of cataracts.
It is important to remember that the cataract is a
problem of the lens "inside" the eye and it is not, as
many people seem to think, a "cloudy film" that forms on
their eyes which needs to be "peeled off."
surgery has made tremendous advances in recent years.
Today, it is the most frequently performed surgery for
senior citizens in the United States. Cataract surgery
has also become one of the most comfortable surgical
procedures for a person to experience and the results
are overwhelmingly positive with the outcome being the
restoration of useful eyesight.
The results of cataract surgery are even better than
they were only a few short years ago with the
development of what has become known as " no stitch,
no shot, no patch surgery." This technique allows the
cataract to be removed from the eye and replaced with an
implant (an artificial lens) through a "self - sealing"
incision only a few millimeters in length. The incision
is made at a slight angle so that the eye's own internal
pressure keeps the incision closed so tightly that
stitches aren't needed. The surgery no longer requires
an injection to be given and instead the eye is simply
numbed with drops and most patients go home the same day
with no patch. This technique allows the eye to heal
more quickly and with a minimal amount of discomfort.
The implant or intraocular lens which replaces the
cataract not only restores a clear image but also helps
the eye focus.There are many different types of implants
and these are produced with different focusing powers.
The best type of implant is specifically selected for
each individual patient after the patient has decided
how they wish to be corrected. For instance, most
patients choose to be corrected with an implant which
will provide clear vision at distance (for television
viewing, street signs etc.) but will not provide sharp
vision for tasks such as reading or sewing, so glasses
will be necessary for close work.
Patients who need cataract surgery on both eyes usually
choose to have both eyes corrected for distance vision
and to simply use "reading" glasses as they probably
have for many years. However, for the second eye there
is the opportunity to decide whether you wish to have
its implant selected to give clear vision "up close"
instead of for distance. This creates a condition called
"monovision" and if selected the patient will have one
eye corrected for distance vision and the other eye for
close tasks. With time the brain automatically chooses
which eye to use for the object you are looking at.
Choosing "monovision" will likely reduce your need for
Still another option to reduce the need for glasses is
to be corrected with a "multifocal implant." This type
of implant is designed to offer good vision for both
distance and close tasks. It is important to remember
that with this type of implant vision will not be as
sharp as it is with the previously described and more
traditional corrections. It will also take some time to
get used to functioning with the "multifocal" implant
after surgery. It is important to note that the
"multifocal implant" is not a good choice for anyone who
needs to do any significant amount on driving at night.