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Your Guide to Cataract Surgery

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is one of the most common eye surgeries performed in the United States every year. We certainly perform more than our fair share here at Woolfson Eye Institute.

In fact, we offer cataract surgery in Atlanta (Sandy Springs and College Park, GA), Cumming (GA), Lawrenceville (GA), Douglasville (GA), Canton (GA), Snellville (GA) and Asheville (NC).

Join us as we talk about cataracts — signs & symptoms, treatments, types of surgery & lens options, and the entire patient care process from initial consultation to post-operatve care.

Explanation of normal vision and overview of cataracts

What are cataracts?

According to Prevent Blindness America, there are 22 million Americans over the age of 40 who have cataracts, and that number is expected to grow to over 30 million in the next five years. The problem certainly isn’t going away any time soon.

If you ask most people what a cataract is, the answer would be something like “a cloudy or hazy film that forms over the eye.” However, in actuality a cataract is when the natural lens inside your eye becomes cloudy.

In essence, protein deposits come together to create a “smudge” on the lens of your eye, much like a smudge on the lens of the camera. Unfortunately, you can’t just take a rag and some cleaner to get the smudge out of the lens of your eye (that would be a very bad idea!)

  • Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car — especially at night — or see the expression on a friend’s face.
  • When the lens of the eye is cloudy, it cannot focus light correctly on the retina, which can lead to a decline or loss in vision, and cause a variety of visual disturbances.
  • Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. With time, however, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.

Stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with cataracts at first, but when impaired vision begins to interfere with your usual activities, you might need cataract surgery.

Common cataract symptoms

Common Cataract Symptoms Treatment Options InfographicFor many patients, the first signs of a cataract are visual disturbances. These can include any or all of the following:

  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Loss of vibrancy, or changes in the way you see color
  • Problems driving at night due to glare from headlights or road signs
  • A phenomenon known as “second sight” where distance vision gets worse, but reading glasses are no longer required
  • Dramatic, sudden changes in your glasses or contact lens prescription

If you are experiencing any of these issues, and think that your vision is being affected by a cataract or other eye problem, please contact the Woolfson Eye Institute location nearest you to schedule your evaluation.

Cataract treatment options

For some patients with mild cataracts, a change in prescription can improve vision, but this is just a temporary solution to a problem that will not go away on its own.

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.

The primary treatment for patients who are affected by cataracts is surgery. 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). During the procedure, the old, cloudy lens is removed and a new, artificial lens is put in its place.

Overview of cataract treatment options
In depth details about cataract surgery options

The cataract surgery process

Whether you have a cataract in one eye or in both eyes, surgery is typically only performed on one eye at a time so that a patient is not trying to recover from surgery in both eyes at the same time.

Cataract surgery, whether done manually or with a laser, is a relatively straightforward, simple procedure that can have a profound effect on your vision, and of course, your overall quality of life.

Before cataract surgery

You’ll want to start by allotting roughly 2-3 hours of your time for the surgery. The actual surgery takes only minutes, but additional time is required for preparation and recovery after the surgery.

Also, you want to make sure that you arrange transportation to and from your cataract surgery appointment, as you do not need to be driving immediately after surgery.

Preparation for cataract surgery involves a mild sedative, anesthetic or numbing drops that can make some patients feel a bit groggy. Once a patient is in the operating room, the skin around the eye will be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe, and special eye drops that dilate the pupil and prevent infection will be applied.

During cataract surgery

The first part of the procedure involves removing the old lens through a process called phacoemulsification.

In laymen’s terms, a device roughly the size of a pen tip is inserted through the cornea. Using high frequency sound waves, the cataract is broken up into small fragments that are immediately suctioned away.

This process clears the way for a new lens to be inserted, which will restore your vision and get rid of the cloudy vision you have been experiencing.

After the natural lens is removed, an intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted through the incision in the cornea using an injector tool. The lens is inserted right where the natural cataract lens used to be.

Slight adjustments are typically made to align the lens with the patient’s astigmatism (based on measurements taken before surgery), and at that point the lens is in place and ready to go.

Patients may experience a feeling of pressure on the eye, but most patients do not describe the experience as painful or unpleasant in any way.

Recovery from cataract surgery

Our goal is to match each patient with the procedure that is best for them and to minimize the risk of any complications. The side effects of cataract surgery are minimal, but may include the worsening of dry eye for a few weeks or even months following your cataract surgery procedure.

The dry eye is usually temporary, and goes away after a period of time. At Woolfson Eye Institute, we send all of our patients home with drops to help alleviate any discomfort associated with dry eye.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can always call our practice or schedule an appointment with your post-op care doctor.

As always, it is important to still see your eye care professional periodically for a routine exam and checkup. Just because you now have clear vision doesn’t mean you can stop going to the eye doctor!

Laser Cataract Surgery

 

Who is a candidate for laser cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is performed to remove the cloudy natural lens from the eye, and is typically performed on patients between the ages of 60-75; however this is not always the case.

In most cases a permanent refractive intraocular lens (IOL) implant is inserted to replace the natural lens thereby restoring focusing power. Your surgeon will work with you to decide when to have cataract surgery, based on how well you are able to see during routine activities.

Many patients are able to drive, watch TV and work for a number of years after being first diagnosed with cataracts. However, if you have cataracts, you will eventually start to notice declining visual clarity – often with ghost images – which are not correctable with glasses or contacts.

Is femtosecond laser cataract surgery right for you?

You and your Woolfson surgeon will initially have a consultation to design your customized laser cataract surgery driven by your current health, medical history, and unique needs.

During this process, a detailed examination will be performed. Ask your surgeon if you should continue your usual medications and nutritional supplements during the period between the exam and surgery.

As just one example, common drugs that treat men with enlarged prostates known as Alpha Blockers may cause problems associated with Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS) during cataract surgery.

  • Woolfson Eye Institute eye cataracts surgeons may present to you a choice of implantation with a regular single-vision (monofocal intraocular lens IOL) or a presbyopia-correcting intraocular lens (also known as a multifocal lens).
  • If you are interested in correcting presbyopia, which all people begin to face around age 40, you potentially could restore your ability to see at all distances with a multifocal IOL.
  • Additionally, premium IOLs are a great option that may reduce or eliminate your dependency on eyeglasses altogether. Before surgery, your eyes will be thoroughly measured to determine the proper power of the intraocular lens in addition to the types of lenses that are recommended.

The femtosecond laser cataract surgery process

Laser cataract surgery is a relatively new procedure in the United States that allows cataract surgery to be performed with a machine-guided bladeless laser, as opposed to standard or conventional cataract surgery that is performed manually by a cataract surgeon.

During the process, the laser will create corneal incisions as well as the capsulorhexis, and can also be used to break up the cataract before the natural lens is removed from the eye.

  • Laser assisted cataract surgery has been shown to be superior to a manual instrument by significantly reducing the likelihood of human error when creating the capsulorhexis, as well as creating astigmatism treating incisions (LRIs) that are more accurate.
  • With the ability to perform bladeless laser refractive cataract surgery, we are now able to provide a more precise, laser guided surgery for patients in need of cataract treatment.
  • The result is a more predictable outcome for our patients. Laser cataract surgery is approved by the FDA, receiving its most recent approval in 2012.

Having laser cataract surgery at Woolfson Eye Institute is one of the best decisions you will make and will allow your procedure to be performed in our state-of-the-art Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) that was designed, developed, and built with your complete comfort and satisfaction in mind.

LenSx® Laser for laser cataract surgery
Learn more about the LenSx® laser

A word about insurance regulations for laser eye surgery

Currently, only patients that opt for premium lens implants such as multifocal IOLs, or those that are undergoing astigmatism correction in conjunction with their surgery, will qualify for FLACS.

Our doctors will discuss which treatment is best for you, and discuss all insurance regulations so that you can make an informed decision on the specific procedure that is right for you.

Mutlifocal IOLs: Another Option for Cataract Surgery

What are multifocal IOLs?

Multifocal IOLs are premium lenses that can fix a variety of vision issues above and beyond traditional IOLs.

Long gone are the days of patients having only one option for an intraocular lens implant for their cataract surgery.

Now, there are a wide variety of IOL options on the market, and many patients are choosing multifocal IOLs over traditional “standard” or monofocal IOLs.

Traditional cataract surgery has been performed with the primary goal of restoring a patient’s vision far away, so that they can drive without blurred vision, see clearly from far away, and enjoy other activities where clear vision at a distance is required.

However, with a standard IOL lens a patient would still need to wear reading glasses or bifocal lenses after surgery to correct a problem that every patient will face: presbyopia (farsightedness).

  • In effect, multifocal IOLs can correct presbyopia, and are similar to bifocal or multifocal contact lenses, with the exception that they are permanently implanted inside the eye, and do not require any care or routine maintenance beyond normal appointments with your eye care professional.
  • You can think of a multifocal IOL as a lens that is implanted inside the eye to help you see clearly at any distance, and often without the need of glasses.
Which IOL is right for you?

Benefits of multifocal IOL lens vs. a standard IOL?

“Standard” or monofocal IOLs are great for providing clear vision at a distance, but patients will still need. However, patients will still need reading glasses to see clearly up close.

However, with multifocal IOLs that can treat presbyopia and astigmatism, patients are usually able to see well up close, at intermediate distances, and far away.

If there is a lens technology available that allows you to see clearly at any distance, and potentially get rid of your glasses or contact lenses, why wouldn’t you be interested in seeing if this particular treatment is right for you?

More details about multifocal IOLs
Common eye problems fixed with IOLs
Are multifocal lens IOLs covered by insurance? How do I pay?

Medicare or private insurance will generally cover the cost of cataract surgery (although it’s important that you check with your provider); however most of the time you’ll have to pay the extra costs associated with multifocal or advanced technology IOLs out of pocket.

Still, there are payment options that can help take the sting out of the extra costs. At Woolfson Eye Institute we offer payment plans and financing options such as CareCredit, and can provide a variety of options to help you pay for your multifocal IOLs.

While we understand that cost is certainly a factor when determining whether or not a multifocal IOL is right for you, it’s also crucial to look at the potential benefits of these lenses as well, as your quality of life can be greatly improved, and you can save money in the long run.

Interested in multifocal IOLs, or cataract surgery? Contact us!

If you are interested in laser cataract surgery or multifocal IOLs in Atlanta (Sandy Springs and College Park, GA), Cumming (GA), Lawrenceville (GA), Douglasville (GA), Canton (GA), Snellville (GA) and Asheville (NC), then please contact us today!

Our experienced eye surgeons are here to ensure that you get the treatment that is best for you.

During your initial evaluation, we’ll go over laser cataract surgery, as well as any other appropriate treatment options you may need to consider based on the health of your eyes and medical history.

Don’t wait. If you are ready to see clearly and eliminate your cataracts once and for all, then call the office nearest you today!

Our Cataract Surgeons

 

Helpful Links

Cataract Patient Testimonials


  Judy Rush
At first I wss scared to death. A staff member explained what was being done and totally out me at ease. I had no problems during or after surgery. I had cataracts on both eyes and I was given my eyesight back as well as my freedom. I feel so proud I would recomend Woolfson to anybody,if you want the best try Woolfson Institution.

  Mike & Cheryl Lardie
I had a great experience with Dr Z for my cataract surgery and after care. He and his staff are very helpful and caring. The patient is always top priority.

  Vicki Poynter
Wow. I was referred to Dr. Hays for cataract surgery. The entire process from consultation to surgery was flawless. I love Dr. Hays. He is an amazing surgeon and a wonderful person. I was treated exceptionally well by the staff. Holly, my CMA was very professional and cared about my comfort. She kept me informed of every procedure and continually asked me if I was comfortable. The process was quick but thorough. The facility was clean and staff was on point. They truly care and strive for an easy procedure. I can't wait to have my other eye corrected. I would never go anywhere else. Thank you Dr. Hays and staff! Rock Stars all day long!

  Michael B
I have been going to Woolfson for 7 to 10 yrs and they are a one stop shop for eye issues. Dr. Brody did my cataracts and new lens implants so I would never have to wear glasses including readers about 4 yrs ago. Fantastic results! Dr. Brody is reassuring, explains everything in great detail and good "bed side manner".

  Michael Berens
Recently had the lenses in my eyes replaced due to cataracts. After having LASIK in 99 I thought my vision was great. After getting me new lenses put in I can honestly my eyes are better than ever. Colors are more vivid and I am no longer wearing any type of glasses. Thank you so much Dr Jennings and team for giving me my sight a makeover.

  Eileen Childs
Outstanding experience with both of my cataract removals - had one done in 2019 and 2021. All the staff were very professional, caring and organized. Dr Brody is an excellent surgeon. Would highly recommend Woolfson Eye Institute and Dr Brody.

  Rebecca Shafer
Very professional, efficient, and pleasant staff. The doctor explained the results of the tests for my cataracts and next steps. I highly recommend Dr. Hayes and Woolfson Eye Institute for eye surgery.

  Connie Wood
Dr Hays is an exceptional opthamologist!! I could not say enough good things about Dr Hays. I had been loosing vision in my right eye and didn't know why. Dr. Hayes examined my eyes and I was told I had a catarac. I had 16 slit Radial Keratotomy 28 years ago and was very scared to have catarac surgery. I had went home and googled everything I could about having catarac surgery after RK. Dr. Hays' staff was nice enough to set me up another appt. with Dr. Hays to address my concerns. He was wonderful and very nice in helping me to ease my worries. Dr. Hays is the best opthamologist I have ever been to. He did my catarac surgery on 8/24/21 and on post op visit (8/25/21) I have 20/20 vision for the first time in 28 years. I would recommend Dr. Hays to anyone needing an opthamologist. He is passionate about his work and loves his profession. I Thank God for putting Doctors like Dr. Hays in this world. I would like to Thank everyone of Dr. Hays staff members. You are all wonderful, professional, and caring. You have a wonderful team that works well together I cannot put into words how Thankful I am to Dr Hays. Dr. Hays truly cares about his patient's and the final results. It's not easy to find Dr's like that these days!!!

  Bill Poole
Dr. Brody and his team worked miracles on my 77 years old eyes. 2 days after my second cataract surgery I am seeing 20-20 in both eyes for the first time in about 70 years. I just wish that I had done this sooner. I enthusiastically recommend Dr. Brody to anyone needing cataract surgery and I encourage you to do it as soon as possible. I also strongly recommend the multifocal lens with laser if possible. Thank you Dr. Brody!

  Ken Morgan
Had cataract procedure done and super pleased with results. Had right eye worked on and 30 minutes to an hour noticed remarkable results! Reading billboards and car tags without my glasses was amazing! Dr. Hayes and the staff of Woodson Institute are the friendliest people you'll meet. Courteous and professional. Can't wait to have surgery done on left eye.

  Christine Tucker-Seese
Dr Cook is a very caring doctor. Had cataract surgery on both eyes. He has kept a close eye on my eyes to make sure the heal properly.

  Robert A. Foreman, Sr
Why Did I Wait SO-OOOO Long.? The entire staff and Dr Jason S. Brody handled everything VERY warmly and professionally, ... including me. What I perceived to possibly be a painful experience, turned out to be a short-lived, minor inconvenience. I now have 20-20 vision in both eyes and aced my GA driver's license vision test. There is no requirement for glasses anymore, ... to drive at 75 years of age.! Everything is brighter, clearer, ... and the COLORS..! Now, anytime I hear someone speak about THEIR cataracts (or vision problems), I tell them about MY story / Dr Brody / and the Woolfson Eye Institute.

  Varner Jo Blackshaw Holmes
Excellent experience with my first cataract, done by Dr. Hays. In 2 weeks I have other one done. I know what to expect now, so it should go even more smoothly, if that's possible!

  BRCB
Very professional medical staff and Dr. Brody was very calming and nice. His assistant, Yonairi was also very informative and helpful ! Four weeks later I don't need readers at all, distance has always been excellent! However, I do have halos around lights at night time . I'm told that they will subside now that my regiment of eyedrops are over with! I would definatley go through this operation again especially now I won't be getting any cataracts anymore! I feel younger not needing readers any more!!!!

  Paul F. Thompson
I had cataract surgery yesterday performed by Dr. Hays. It was over before I knew it was started. Now typing this with no glasses on. All staff were courtious and professional. Was well looked after throughout the whole procedure.

  Ilene F.
I highly recommend Dr. Stulting. My cataract surgery on both eyes went great and my vision is now excellent. I was very apprehensive about the surgery because I had had a retina tear in each eye in my past. I was referred to this doctor because I feared complications and my optician said Dr. Stulting is the doctor to go to for high risk cases. Under his care I had a very positive outcome. I want to thank Dr. Stulting for being such a skilled physician.

  Chris Snellgrove
Dr. Hays is a phenomenal eye surgeon, and trust me I've seen a lot in my life with my eyes. That was not intended to be a pun. I've had severe myopia all my life and have suffered from floaters to cataracts. Dr. Hays has provided me with excellent medical attention and always done so with a special friendly bedside manner. Friendly and proficient care. Thanks Dr. Hays

  Pamela Dolecki
I showed up at the Mt Vernon office on 5/18/15, in extreme agony in my Left eye. I was first seen by Dr Hayes, and at first he thought I just had a scratch or something on my eye. I even got the lecture to always see your own eye doctor first, as they know your eyes best. It took him a 1 second look and to call his Tech over to look 'again' I had closed angle Glaucoma, with the presser at 56. Normal is like 10. Very luck for me Dr Day was in office and took his 1 look at my eye and it was instant Laser Peripheral Iridotomy. Followed the next day by preventive LPI on good eye. Cataract's were removed near 3 months later when left eye healed. Without the wonderful doctor at Woolfson Eye Institution, I don't feel I would have any eyesight left in my left eye. I thank them daily.
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