What are cataracts?

A cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye’s natural lens. It interferes with light passing through the eye to the retina.

What are the basic causes of cataracts?

Over fifty percent of people over the age of 60 suffer from cataracts. Everyone develops cataracts as they grow older. Aging and other factors (such as trauma or certain diseases or medications) cause proteins in the eye’s lens to clump together forming these cloudy areas.

How do I know when I have a cataract?

Early changes may not disturb vision, but over time, symptoms of cataracts typically include blurred or fuzzy vision and glare. People with progressed cataracts often say they feel as if they are looking through a waterfall or a piece of wax paper.

What are the advances in today’s cataract procedure?

Today’s cataract surgery procedure uses a small incision, self-sealing technique, which allows for quicker recovery for the patient. Lens implant technology has also improved so that patients may now be able to see at all distances without the need for glasses or contact lenses.

How is cataract surgery performed today?

A small incision is made on the side of the cornea, the clear dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Your doctor inserts a tiny probe into the eye. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens so that it can be removed by suction. Cataract surgery at the Eye Surgery Center of Louisiana is done by this procedure, called phacoemulsification. An artificial lens or implant is placed in the eye to take the place of the natural lens that has been removed.

What are my lens options after cataract surgery?

We offer three types of lenses for our cataract surgery patients: traditional clear lenses, toric lenses and lifestyle lenses. Clear lenses give you good vision for driving and distance, but mean you will need reading glasses. Toric lenses give the same results for people who have astigmatism and would otherwise need expensive prescription glasses after cataract surgery.

What are lifestyle lenses?

Every individual will experience loss of near vision sometime after the age of 40. This results in the need for reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses in order to see clearly. The medical term for this condition is presbyopia, literally translated as “elder vision.” Presbyopia is caused by a gradual loss of the flexibility of the lens and muscles inside the eye.

Up until now, the only option for near vision correction has been monovision, which consists of making the eye slightly nearsighted and correcting for distance in the other eye. While this is a very satisfactory arrangement for many individuals, many more do not tolerate or do not like monovision. In addition, monovision can only be adjusted for two distances, i.e. near and far, or mid-distance and far vision, but never all three.

That has all changed with the approval of lifestyle lenses. These groundbreaking lenses can now give patients the ability to see distance, intermediate, and near vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses.

The lifestyle lenses replace the natural aging lens. It is important to understand that while these lenses are new technology, intraocular lens are not new. They have been in use now for over 30 years, and lens implant surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the U.S.

What are the main benefits to the patient in today’s technique?

The main benefit of today’s modern cataract procedure is that there are no stitches, no needles, and no patches necessary. For the patient, this means a quick return of vision and to normal activities.

How soon can I resume my normal activities?

You can return quickly to many everyday activities, but your vision may be blurry. The healing eye needs time to adjust so that it can focus properly with the other eye, especially if the other eye has a cataract. In general, you can do most activities as soon as you feel able.

What is it like the day of the procedure?

At the Eye Surgery Center of Louisiana, drops will be put into your eye to dilate the pupil. The area around your eye will be washed and cleansed.

The operation usually lasts six or seven minutes and is painless. Patients are sedated, but awake during the procedure. You will be given anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye.

After the operation, you will be ready to go home after receiving your postoperative instructions. You will need someone to drive you home.

What will I see and feel as I go through the procedure?

Because you will be sedated lightly, you may not be fully awake. Patients will be informed each step of the way as to what is coming next and on what to focus. You may hear the sound of several instruments used during the procedure. There is no pain involved with modern cataract surgery, and after the procedure you will be fully awake and aware relatively quickly.

What are the risks to the surgery?

As with any surgery, cataract surgery poses risks, such as infection and bleeding; however, the risks of modern cataract surgery are very rare. Before cataract surgery, your doctor may ask you to temporarily stop taking certain medications that increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. After surgery, you must keep your eye clean, wash your hands before touching your eye, and use the prescribed medications to help minimize the risk of infection.

How should I go about selecting a cataract surgeon?

The most important criteria by which to select a qualified cataract surgeon is experience in the most modern techniques available. You will also want to select a surgeon and staff who answer all your questions and whom you feel will deliver the most personal care to you before, during, and after the procedure. See How to Choose a Cataract Surgeon for more information.

If you would like to discuss cataract surgery in more detail or would like to schedule your consultation, please contact The Eye Surgery Center of Louisiana today. We proudly serve patients from our locations in Metairie, Slidell, Gretna and Bogalusa, Louisiana.

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