Do I need cataract surgery?
A cataract occurs when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes opaque, which results in visual distortion. Cataracts often cause a gradual decrease of vision, glare, difficulty with night vision, and reduced colors and contrast. They often result in a disruption of daily activities such as reading and driving, thus reducing quality of life. Cataracts do not improve and can not be treated with medications. The only known remedy is cataract surgery. You do not have to wait until your cataract reaches any particular stage to have it surgically removed. Cataract surgery should be performed whenever you feel that your vision is impairing your daily activities of living.
How is cataract surgery done?
Cataract surgery is usually an easy experience for most patients. It is performed while the patient is awake and does not require any shots. Before the procedure, several drops are used to numb your eye and dilate your pupil. You will simply need to lie back, relax and look up into a microscope. You should not experience any pain. A tiny incision is made in the clear cornea and the cataract is quickly sucked out using a small probe. A lens implant is then folded and inserted into the eye through the tiny incision. Typically, no sutures are used. The day after, most people do not feel any discomfort at all and usually full restoration of vision occurs within the first week. Most people find that there is a huge improvement by the very next day. Most can work and drive within a few days of the surgery.
What if I have claustrophobia or anxiety?
People who suffer from claustrophobia may be anxious about being draped during surgery. This is rarely an issue with cataract surgery and there are many modifications that we can do to open up the draping. Furthermore, there is always an anesthesiologist available by your side to help you relax or to calm your nerves. In extremely rare occasions we can even put you under general anesthesia if that becomes necessary (although it almost never does). You should find the experience easy, relaxing and even enjoyable.
Are you going to use a laser?
No. The jury is still out as to whether or not this is a superior method to the time-tested phacoemulsification method. In this procedure a small probe is placed through the tiny incision in the eye and the cataract is gently “emulsified” ie: broken up into tiny pieces which are then sucked out of the eye by the probe. This usually takes only a few minutes and is not visible by the patient. This is performed through the tiny, self-sealing incision which does not need to be sutured
Will I get a lens implant?
All patients undergoing cataract surgery will receive a lens implant in their eye to replace the cataract that was removed. This is necessary because, like a camera, the eye would be unable to focus light effectively without a lens. There are many different types of lens implant and they are generally made out of plastic or acrylic. The lens implant that we choose is custom tailored for your eye preoperatively during the measurements that we take prior to the surgery.
Do cataracts grow back?
No, this is a once-in-a-life-time procedure. Cataracts will never return once they are removed.
Are the results of cataract surgery “guaranteed”?
There is no such thing as “guaranteeing” the results of surgery. Fortunately, the complication rate of cataract surgery is very low. The vast majority of patients will experience great improvement in their vision. It is very rare but not impossible for vision to be worsened or lost. It should also be noted that the final outcome of cataract surgery depends on the overall health of your eye in general. Patients who have pre-existing conditions such as retinal problems, optic nerve disease or previous trauma may not experience as high a success rate as other patients.
This video-rich presentation focuses on cataracts, the history of surgery, and modern implants. It is entertaining and informative.