5 Things You Should Know About Cataracts
Dr. Jonathan Woolfson
Experiencing cataracts symptoms and want to learn more? Want to test your knowledge about eye cataracts or learn something new? How do you fix cataracts? What’s the cataracts recovery process like?
You’ve come to the right place for those answers!
Join us as we uncover five things you should know about cataracts.
1) Cataract surgery is one of the most common eye surgeries performed in the United States every year, and we certainly perform more than our fair share here at Woolfson Eye Institute.
If you have blurred or cloudy vision, problems driving at night due to glare from headlights or road signs or other common cataracts symptoms, you may be dealing with eye cataracts.
An eye cataract is the clouding of the natural lens of the eye. The lens is responsible for focusing light and allowing you to see, to read and to see in the dark. When the lens clouds or has other imperfections, then it becomes difficult to focus light and to see clearly.
The cataract can also cause light to scatter in lots of different directions, which can be a problem with headlights (when you see an annoying glare).
2) People experience many different types of cataracts symptoms.
Cataracts typically cause glare from headlights or from driving into the sun. They cause difficulty driving at night (because of insufficient light) or driving in the rain when the contrast is generally very low.
Cataracts can also prevent you from seeing details like small lettering and small font. Cataracts sometimes form a smudge in your vision making it impossible to see anything clearly. In the worst cases, cataracts prevent all of the vision and can render a person blind in the affected eye.
3) There’s only one way to fix cataracts — remove the entire cloudy lens from the eye.
Every time we remove the cloudy lens, we replace it with an implant. The implant can have any number of features or technology associated with it, and we can assign any prescription to that lens implant that we want. But you have to go from a natural lens to a synthetic lens.
Cataracts can be removed in a traditional manner using typical surgical tools, or we use a laser to facilitate removal of the cataract (known as laser cataract surgery). The laser offers automation and precision, which can lead to more standardized cataract surgery.
4) Eye cataract surgery recovery isn’t as bad as you think.
In the first 24 hours after cataract surgery, you can expect a scratchy sensation and foggy vision. As the swelling goes down and the incision starts to heal, the scratchiness goes away and the vision starts to clear.
A lot of patients after the anesthesia is worn off and the initial symptoms of discomfort have gone away, can resume driving and can resume work. I don’t specifically counsel patients to avoid lifting heavy items, but under certain circumstances, the cataracts eye surgeon may recommend taking it easy for a week after surgery.
Something important to remember:
We think it’s very important that patients do not rub their eyes or get the eye wet with tap water, swimming pool water, lake water or ocean water for the first week after surgery while the incision heals.
Once the incision has healed completely, then it’s safe to treat the eye like normal and you can expose the eye to water of any type and you can actually rub the eye and eyelids without restriction.
We allow about a month for the eye to stabilize and heal before prescribing glasses or before considering additional therapy.
If for whatever reason a LASIK procedure is needed after cataract surgery, stability is usually reached by three months.
It’s important to use the prescribed eyedrops for the period of time following eye cataracts surgery, which is about three weeks. In that group of prescription eyedrops, there are prescription antibiotics, prescription steroids, and prescription anti-inflammatories. All three of which work together to prevent infection, prevent swelling and pain and help to preserve your best vision.
5) There are two major categories of cataract surgery — basic and custom surgery.
Custom surgery can be performed with or without a laser using a specialty lens. Basic cataract surgery is all of the essentials required to fix vision, including an advanced intraocular lens.
The basic lens implant is going to be a single focused lens that either fixes your far vision, your near vision, but not both. A basic lens typically means that a patient will need prescription glasses, but at the very least reading over-the-counter glasses.
Custom surgery can be performed with a laser and can include various types of lens implants such as a toric lens for astigmatism or a trifocal lens or full vision correction.
Full vision correction means that you no longer are dependent on reading glasses or progressive bifocal or trifocal to read or to pick up items to see what they say.
One other option for cataract surgery includes monovision. Monovision is for patients who have experience using one eye for distance purposes, like driving and watching television and using another eye for reading or working on the computer.
The brain tends to merge the two images into a single image and the brain automatically switches back and forth from the distance eye to the near eye. This can be accomplished using basic lenses, custom lenses and/or laser. Laser is recommended for these specific outcomes to improve the precision and reproducibility of the procedure.
Not all patients qualify for custom cataract surgery as some of the advanced technology implants require a healthy eye free of diseases like macular degeneration or glaucoma. But wherever possible, these lenses are recommended for patients who want to get full vision correction.
Have more questions about cataracts? Ready to schedule your cataract surgery consultation?
At Woolfson Eye Institute headquartered in Atlanta, GA (with additional locations around the Southeast), we see cataract patients on a daily basis. We match them with the corrective eye procedure that is best for their situation.
For more information on cataract surgery or to schedule an appointment, please contact our location nearest you today.