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."

Cataract 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 "reading" glasses.

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.