Gulf Coast Eye Center

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American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery


    Cataract Surgery
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What is a Cataract?

With a clear normal lens, the images are focused clearly on the retina (LEFT IMAGE).  Vision is clear.  With a cataract, the lens is cloudy, causing the image to become blurred and yellowed (RIGHT IMAGE).  Vision is hazy, and colors become faded.  Cataracts can be treated with surgery and the use of intraocular lenses (IOL’s).

Clear Vision
Vision with Cataract

What causes cataracts?

A cataract is caused by a change in the chemical composition of the lens.  The most common cause for this change is the natural aging process.  As we mature, the normally flexible, clear material of the lens becomes hard and cloudy.  Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the development of cataracts.  Everyone who lives long enough will eventually develop cataracts.  Most people who develop cataracts don’t go on to need cataract surgery.

Although most commonly seen in adults after the age of 40, cataracts can occur at any age. The condition may be present at birth or caused by an injury to the eye. Infections and other eye diseases, such as glaucoma and eye tumors, may cause the development of a cataract. Vision loss is usually gradual as a cataract develops.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?
• Dimming or blurring of vision
• Halos or glare around lights
• Double vision
• Colors appear less brilliant
• Feeling of "film" over the eyes
• Frequent changing or cleaning of glasses
• Difficulty driving or reading

What to Expect on Surgery Day:

You will arrive at the surgery center about an hour prior to your procedure.  Once you have been checked in you may be offered a sedative to help you relax.  You will then be prepared for surgery.  The area around your eyes will be cleaned and a sterile drape will be applied around your eye.  Eye drops or a local anesthetic will be used to numb your eyes.  When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

A very small incision will be made and a tiny ultrasonic probe will be used to break up the cataract into microscopic particles using high-energy sound waves.  This is called phacoemulsification.

The cataract particles will be gently suctioned away.  Then, a folded intra-ocular lens (IOL), or multifocal IOL lens, (see ReSTOR) will be inserted through the micro-incision, then unfolded and locked into permanent position.  The small incision is “self sealing” and usually requires no stitches.  It remains tightly closed by the natural outward pressure within the eye. This type of incision heals fast and provides a much more comfortable recuperation.

You will go home soon after the surgery and relax for the rest of the day.  Everyone heals somewhat differently, but many patients report improvement in their vision later in the day of the procedure.  Most patients return to their normal activities within a day or two.