Over fifty percent of people over the age of 60, and quite a few younger than that, suffer from cataracts, a clouding of the natural lens of the eye which occurs as we age and can reduce vision. There is no medical treatment to reverse or prevent the development of cataracts. Once they form, the only way to see clearly again is to have them removed.
In your parents' or grandparents' day, cataract surgery was considered risky, required a lengthy hospital stay and was usually postponed for as long as possible. Today, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure and takes only a few minutes. It is the most common and successful surgery in the world. In fact, following cataract surgery, many patients experience vision that is actually better than what they had before they developed cataracts.
Almost everyone undergoing cataract surgery receives an intraocular lens (IOL). This helps the eye to focus more clearly after surgery.
You will arrive at the outpatient surgery center about an hour and a half prior to your procedure. Once you have been registered, you will be taken to the preoperative area and prepared for surgery. The nurses will begin a series of drops prior to the operation. Dr. Newton will see you in the preoperative area and answer any final questions you may have, as well as make certain you have no untreated, active heart or lung disease prior to surgery.
You will then be taken to the operating room where the anesthesiologist will place some monitors and give you IV sedation and something for discomfort. At that point, Dr. Newton will instill some numbing drops, followed by a numbing sponge. After about one minute, a small injection will be given of a longer-acting numbing medication. Dr. Newton will then prepare the eyelids with an aneseptic solution and place the appropriate drapes over the eye area to keep the field sterile. She will then make a small incision, approximately 1/8 inch long. Through that incision, she will open up the capsule of the cataract. Then, using an ultrasound probe, which breaks up the cataract and vacuums it out, will remove the bulk of the cataract. Once the cataract is out, she will then take the intraocular lens, fold it up, and insert it through that same small incision. The intraocular lens will then unfold, and Dr. Newton will remove any gel that was used to facilitate the insertion of the lens, as well as any small residual cataract parts. After that, one or two sutures will be placed to ensure a water-tight closure. Next, drops will be placed in the eye, and you will probably be given a pair of dark glasses. You will also be given instructions to continue these drops until you go to bed that night, and then to remove the dark glasses, and place the shield over the operated eye.
The decision to have cataract surgery is an important one, which our knowledgeable staff can help you in making. Once the cataract is removed, it will not grow back. Over time some patients may experience gradual decreased vision secondary to haze developing behind the intraocular lens on the capsular bag. An in-office laser is used to make an opening in that cloudy capsule and then restore the vision. Both cataract surgery and laser capsulotomy are covered by medical insurance. Our goal is to make your cataract surgical experience as comfortable as possible with an outstanding visual result.
For more information regarding cataract surgery, you can visit Alcon's website @ www.cataractsurgery.com