A cataract is the hardening, yellowing, and clouding of the natural lens of the eye. Normally, the lens is transparent, providing clear, crisp vision. According to the National Eye Institute, nearly half of all Americans will have had a cataract by the time they reach age 80. Generally, cataract surgery is not necessary unless the lens becomes so dense that poor vision interferes with quality of life. In most cases, this process takes several years. Studies indicate that 99% of people with cataracts do not undergo surgery until their later years. With the recent advances made in cataract surgery in the past several years, more people are choosing to have cataracts removed sooner.
About Cataract Surgery
Cataract removal surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure. Local anesthetic in the form of numbing eye drops supports patient comfort.
If cataracts are present in both eyes, one eye is treated at a time. Procedures are typically scheduled a month or two apart. In some cases, the eyes are treated years apart due to the rate of cataract progression differing in each eye.
During cataract-removal surgery, the ophthalmologist removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear, vision-correcting (if necessary) artificial lens. This lens heals within a natural capsule of tissue and offers clearer vision within a few days.
Decisions to Make About Cataract Surgery
- It is first necessary to find an ophthalmologist who is familiar with cataract-removal surgery.
- All other decisions regarding treatment are made together with detailed information provided by the ophthalmologist.
- With information from the ophthalmologist and bases on your expectations, you must decide the best timing for your removal surgery.
- Once surgery is decided upon, your ophthalmologist will discuss your various options for intraocular lenses. These are the different types of artificial lenses that may be used to replace the one that has become cloudy.
- The doctor will also discuss the various risks and expectations that may apply to your treatment plan.
- Cataract surgery is usually very efficient and quick. Patients are typically back at home within a few hours of their procedure time, driven by a loved-one. After replacing the clouded lens, many patients no longer need eyeglasses or rely on reading glasses only.