A cataract (Latin for waterfall) is a clouding of the lens in the eye which leads to a decrease in vision. Cataracts often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms may include faded colors, blurry vision, halos around light, trouble with bright lights, and trouble seeing at night. This may result in trouble driving, reading, or recognizing faces Poor vision caused by cataracts may also result in an increased risk of falling and depression. Cataracts are a common cause of (temporary) blindness and visual impairment worldwide. Cataracts become more common with age. Cataracts are most commonly due to aging but may also occur due to trauma or radiation exposure, be present from birth, or occur following eye surgery for other problems. Risk factors include diabetes, smoking tobacco, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and alcohol. The lens becomes cloudy or turns a yellowish-brown color which reduces the transmission of light to the retina at the back of the eye. The cataract is easily diagnosed during a routine eye examination.
Prevention includes wearing sunglasses and not smoking. Early on the symptoms may be improved with glasses. If this does not help, surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens is the only effective treatment. Surgery is only needed if the cataracts are causing problems and generally results in an improved quality of life. One of the most common reasons for having Cataract surgery is to be able to continue driving an automobile safely, others include difficulty reading and/or watching television.
Cataract surgery has advanced greatly over the centuries, the earliest form was called “couching”, which was simply poking the lens of the eye with a large needle, pushing it into the back chamber of the eye (Vitreous Humor). This allowed light into the back of the eye, but there was no lens to focus the light. Modern Cataract surgery involves the use of ultrasound, lasers combined with vacuum to remove the lens particles. A small plastic lens is inserted into the eye and usually no stitches are involved. Modern cataract surgery results in improved vision 99% of the time (In Healthy Eyes), the surgery is painless and takes less than 15 minutes in an outpatient setting. After surgery you will use eye drops for about 3 weeks, healing begins immediately and normally within 2-3 weeks optimal vision is achieved.
Standard Cataract Surgery vs. Laser Assisted- Cataract Surgery
What is Standard Cataract Surgery?
Standard cataract Surgery is micro-surgery in which the cloudy natural crystalline lens of the eye is broken up and removed MANUALLY using an ultrasound & vacuum process known as phacoemulsification. The lens is then replaced with a soft clear monofocal (Single Focus) lens. The power of the new lens is calculated using a sophisticated formula and specialized measurements attempting to provide distance vision correction. This procedure will take away cloudy vision allowing the eyes to be corrected with bifocals or readers. This type of cataract surgery is usually covered by most medical insurance plans. In having standard cataract surgery the goal is to give good vision again with full time use of glasses for distance and reading.
What is LASER-assisted Cataract Surgery?
Unlike Standard Cataract Surgery Laser assisted Cataract Surgery uses computer driven precision controlled light waves to soften the lens and allow for easy vacuum removal. The computer automatically takes a series of advanced measurements and corrects astigmatism at the same time. The Laser uses less energy than the sound waves making for a more precise surgical procedure.
This advanced form of cataract surgery also uses higher technology testing and pre-operative planning along with astigmatism correction which 1.) Eliminates the cataract and 2.) reduces or eliminates the need for glasses.
Laser-assisted Distance Surgery: An FDA approved, better night vision, aspheric, antiglare intraocular lens is used along with astigmatism reducing surgical technique and/or a toric IOL to provide optimum distance vision without the use of glasses most of the time. The use of glasses is usually limited to reading. This custom cataract surgery is ideal for those who desire optimum distance and night vision. There is an additional cost for this custom surgery. Current monovision contact lens wearers can also opt for monovision with the “HD” aspheric lens system.
Laser-assisted Multifocal Surgery: Involved in this procedure is a combination of specialized multifocal intraocular lenses to allow the eye to focus at many different focal points. This includes advanced surgical techniques including astigmatism correction customized to the particular need of the individual patient. This surgery is done with the intention of giving the patient good vision 96% of the time without the use of glasses, although glasses may be necessary occasion for certain purposes. Most patients who receive this lens have experienced some glare or halos while looking towards lights at night; however it usually dissipates over time or with special drops. The glare has been known to hinder under one-fourth of one percent of patient’s ability to drive a vehicle comfortably at night. Refractive Cataract Surgery is also known as Bifocal Reduction Surgery which is performed by Dr. Coffman who is one of the internationally recognized leaders in this specialized field. He has implanted over 10,000 multifocal lenses, more of this type of surgery than any surgeon in the world. There is an additional fee for this very advanced surgery as well.