So, you scheduled an eye exam because you’re having trouble seeing with your glasses while driving at night and problems reading small print. You decide you will get a new pair of glasses and everything will be fine, but to your surprise you’re told you have cataracts and a new prescription for glasses will not help. Now what?
I am the Surgical Coordinator for Dr. Greenberg and I will try to sort out some of the information you have been given. Let’s start at the beginning.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is the natural clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens is used for focusing light onto the retina (back of the eye) so images appear clear but when you have a cataract these images become distorted. Cataracts usually progress gradually over time and are a normal part of the aging process. A cataract can also develop rapidly as in a case of severe trauma to the eye. Other factors that may lead to cataract formation are exposure to excessive ultraviolet light, diabetes, smoking, or the use of certain medications such as steroids. Cataracts are very common generally affecting both eyes with over 1.5 million cataract surgeries performed in the U.S. each year. There is no treatment to prevent cataracts from forming.
Symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts cause a variety of visual complaints such as blurred vision, difficulty reading small print, trouble driving at night due to glare or halos around lights, difficulty driving in bright sunshine, and occasionally double vision in one eye.
How do I know when to have cataract surgery?
Despite being told you have cataracts, it does not mean you have to have cataract surgery. The decision to have surgery is primarily based on the amount of difficulty you are having performing your daily activities. So basically, the time to have cataract surgery is the time when you can no longer function doing your daily activities with your current vision.
Cataract surgery is performed on an out-patient-basis and takes only about 20 minutes. Your eyes will be done on separate days usually two weeks apart and you will need a driver the day of surgery. The procedure requires no shots or stitches. When you arrive, you will be given a mild sedative to relax you and keep you comfortable. Dr. Greenberg will numb your eye with topical anesthetic eye drops. The most common form of cataract surgery involves a process called Phacoemulsification. A tiny incision about 1/8” is made in the sclera (white part) of your eye. Then using a thin probe, Dr. Greenberg will break up your cataract using ultrasound and gently suction the pieces out. Once the cataract is removed, an artificial lens (Intraocular Lens Implant) is placed into the thin capsular bag that your lens was once in. Once in place it will not move and you will not feel it. The natural pressure in your eye will close the incision. You will be home within a couple hours. Dr. Greenberg will see you the next day and you will be instructed on using eye drops as your eye heals. Most patients return to normal activities within a day with few restrictions.
There are several types of intraocular lenses available: Monofocal, Toric, and Multifocal. At some point you were probably introduced to these during your exam when you were diagnosed with cataracts. Toric and Multifocal lenses are called premium lenses. Let’s discuss each one individually.
Monofocal lenses are the most commonly implanted lenses. This lens is focused at only one distance. They have equal power in all regions of the lens and can provide high-quality distance vision. Patients who have monofocal lenses implanted require reading glasses after.
If you have been told you have astigmatism the Toric lens may be the best option for you. Astigmatism is the result of your cornea or lens having an irregular shape which distorts your vision. A Toric lens has more power in one specific area of the lens to correct astigmatism as well as distance vision. While Toric lenses can improve astigmatism and distance vision, it does not eliminate the need for reading glasses.
Multifocal lenses are the latest advancement in lens technology. These lenses have a variety of correction powers built into the lens offering a full range of vision including near, intermediate and distance.
To schedule an eye exam with Dr. Greenberg please call our office at (248)649-2820 and we can discuss the best intraocular lens options for you.