A cataract is a common condition in which the normally clear lens of the eye becomes discolored, clouded and hardened. The most common cause of cataracts is aging, but other causes include trauma, medications, diabetes and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. With cataract, your vision may look fuzzy, colors might be muted, and you may experience difficulty reading signs while driving at night.
Treatment for cataracts involves a simple surgery to remove the cataract and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL) that can restore clear vision. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States and is done mostly on an out-patient basis. An IOL is a clear, artificial lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye. The IOL typically focuses light better than the original cloudy lens, often reducing the patient’s dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses.
At EyeSight Hawaii, we utilize Phacoemulsification (or phaco) the most modern and proven method of cataract treatment. This typically involves a no-needle anesthesia, no-stitch and no-patch treatment that generally heals more rapidly with less inflammation and discomfort than older techniques.
Yes, in early cataracts, you can still have 20/20 vision but you begin to see a little bit of change in vision and a little bit of blurry vision. We, as ophthalmologists, can also see that the lens begin to turn a little bit of a yellow color. Sometimes with early cataracts, patients can experience significant glare at night time, particularly while driving. This can be very visually disturbing and can be the reason to do a cataract surgery. Even though the vision may seem 20/20, the vision is incapacitating and hindering your daily lifestyle and your driving abilities.
In actuality, no. What brings on cataract is a combination of dietary changes, lifestyle, sun exposure and a little bit of genetics. There’s really nothing one can do to prevent getting cataracts. Everyone, if you live long enough, will eventually get cataracts.
There are multiple types of lenses we use to correct cataract surgery and again, a cataract is a cloudy lens inside the eye. We remove that cloudy lens and put an implant lens in its place. Implant lenses for cataract surgery have been around for 50 years.
Traditionally, implant lenses are single vision lenses or monofocal lenses that are set for distance vision. New generation of lenses came out in the last 10 years and there are two main classes of lenses that help patients with reading vision. The first is a multifocal lens, a single piece lens that has sort of a bulls eye pattern in the lens that allows you to see near and far. Two of the disadvantages of multifocal lens are that sometimes patients get night time glare or halos off of those lenses and additionally you lose a little bit of visual quality in the distance vision.
Another class of lens, Crystalens, is a focusing or accommodative lens that actually focuses in the eye and lets you see far, intermediate and near. It gives you that full focusing back and because its a single piece lens, the visual is phenomenal.
The recovery time after cataract surgery is usually quite quick. The surgery itself takes about a half hour, its an outpatient procedure and you go home and rest that day. Patient’s operative eye will be a little bit scratchy that day and most people have a speedy recovery and do quite well the next day. Post operatively, we do ask patients to refrain from lifting heavy weights and doing a lot of bending for the first week but other than that most people are back to their normal daily activities quite quickly.