by Anna F. Fakadej, MD
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. This lens, located behind the iris, works just like the lens of a camera, focusing light images on the retina, which sends images to the brain. The human lens can become so clouded that it keeps light and images from reaching the retina. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in adults 55 and older.
A cataract can cause images to become blurred and bright colors to become dull. It can also make seeing at night more difficult. Vision with cataracts is often described as seeing through an old, cloudy film. Is your vision blurry or foggy? Do colors appear dull or muted? Are your glasses no longer working? Does sunlight or other light seem overly bright or glaring? Do you have decreased night vision or see halos around lights? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have cataracts.
Many people believe cataracts have to be “ripe” before they can be removed. This is no longer true. Today, cataract surgery can be performed as soon as your vision interferes with the quality of your life.
Cataract surgery is generally an outpatient procedure with little discomfort. First, you are given an anesthetic to numb the nerves in and/or around the eye. The procedure involves making a tiny incision in the eye. The surgeon then inserts a small instrument into the eye to break up the cloudy lens with ultrasound technology and remove it from the eye. Once the cataract is removed, a new artificial lens is inserted through the same incision.
An Intraocular Lens, or IOL, is an artificial lens that replaces the cloudy lens. As an alternative to receiving a standard IOL, today many patients have the option to choose advanced technology lenses to fit their individual lifestyle. Often these advanced lenses can reduce the dependence on glasses. After a thorough examination of your individual needs, your doctor can help you decide which lens or treatment is right for you, including:
Accommodative lens: Unlike traditional lenses that focus at only one or two distances, this lens moves fluidly with the natural action of the eye’s muscle. However, as with all cataract surgery, there is no guarantee the patient will not require glasses or contacts after surgery.
Multifocal lens: This type of lens is also designed to reduce a patient’s reliance on glasses or contacts, though some may still require additional correction after surgery.
Toric lens: Some patients have astigmatism, which simply involves a different shape of the front surface of the eye. The Toric lens implant can help reduce astigmatism.
Blended vision/monovision: An eye treatment that corrects short-sightedness (myopia) in one eye and long-sightedness (hyperopia) in the other eye. Primarily, the treatment is for a condition called presbyopia, which is the progressive loss of the ability to focus on nearby objects.
Dr. Fakadej, a cataract and aesthetic laser specialist at Carolina Eye Associates, can be reached at 800-733-5357 or by visiting www.carolinaeye.com