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.
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.
An ophthalmologist (eye MD) will assess patient symptoms and perform a comprehensive eye exam. The physician will also carefully examine the eye to determine if other conditions exist and how they may affect visual acuity. Particular attention will be given to observation of the retina and macula to assure that other factors are not contributing to the loss of vision. Also, the optic nerve will be inspected for evidence of glaucoma.
Although a large amount of research is currently underway, no measures are known to prevent cataracts developing from the aging process. Special diets, drugs, or medicines have not 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 and restored sight for millions.
Cataract surgery is among the most highly perfected, and successful procedures in all of medicine. Over one million cataract operations are performed in the US every year. The surgery is most often performed with monitored anesthetic care with appropriate sedation given as necessary. The surgery is painless and takes less than half an hour to complete.
A sophisticated ultrasound technique, called phacoemulsification, is used to remove the cataract through a small opening. A permanent replacement intraocular lens (IOL) is then implanted into the eye. Fine-tuning the patient’s vision is accomplished with the appropriate choice of intraocular lens (IOL). The eye heals rapidly, leaving no visible scar and eliminating the need for sutures. With no-stitch techniques, cataract surgery patients are able to resume most activities within 24 hours.
In standard cataract surgery many aspects of the procedure, including the initial incision and the removal of the clouded lens, are performed manually. A relatively new advance is the introduction of femtosecond lasers — first used in 2010 — to perform the initial steps of the cataract procedure. With this new technology, the surgical opening is guided by a special 3-D imaging laser, personalized to specific corneal measurements. Bladeless technology is highly precise and particularly effective for correcting astigmatism, a deviation of normal spherical curvature, which results in distorted images. Patients should discuss bladeless options with their operating surgeon to determine the best approach for their needs.
In traditional cataract surgery, patients undergo a post-operative regimen that includes several different types of eye drops, used for 3-4 weeks. These drops reduce the risk of inflammation and infection, and are a critical part of ensuring successful outcomes. However, complications arise when cataract patients miss scheduled doses, are unable to instill the drops, or become confused with the schedule. Not to mention the cost, which can be as high as $300-600, depending on insurance reimbursement and prescription plans.
No-Drop Cataract Surgery involves using a sterile, compounded formulation of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication deposited directly into the eye during surgery. The time-released delivery helps fight infection and inflammation during the recovery period. Administering the medication at the time of surgery eliminates concerns about patient compliance associated with the use of traditional eye drops.
Learn more about the No-Drop HD Experience at Florida Eye Institute here….
Florida Eye Institute is a total eye care facility with a fully licensed outpatient surgery center. Unlike hospital operating rooms or other outpatient settings, our operating rooms are specifically designed for eye surgery. This helps us respond quickly to changing needs for advanced technologies and procedures.
All of our services - surgical, medical, and educational - are available under one roof and are prescribed, performed, and managed by a highly trained staff dedicated to the care of your vision. Our “patient first, family friendly” approach is at the heart of every surgical experience.
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.
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.
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.
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.