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What you can do about Cataracts

June 12, 2014
By Robert Haverly, MD - Westfield Ophthalmologist Laser Eye Surgery of Erie, Inc. , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Your eye has a clear lens through which light passes, allowing you to see. When the lens loses its transparency, the cloudy tissue that develops is known as a cataract.

Cataracts cause progressive, painless loss of vision. The lens clouds naturally as you age, so people over the age of 65 usually see a gradual reduction of vision. No one is exactly sure what causes cataracts. In younger people, they can be the result of an injury, certain medications, or illnesses such as diabetes. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light may also play a role and studies have also shown that people who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of developing cataracts than non-smokers.

The good news is that most cataracts can now be successfully treated with surgery. Cataract surgery is relatively painless and one of the most frequently performed procedures. It has a very high success rate, and more than 90 percent of cataract surgery patients regain useful vision.

Cataract Surgery Improvements

The cataract surgery of today has come a long way and is one of the most commonly performed surgeries every year in the US. The procedure is done as an outpatient and takes less than a half-hour to perform. You will return to your normal activity level within a few days.

The technique of cataract removal has also undergone major improvements. Modern cataract surgery is performed through an incision less than an eighth of an inch long. A small instrument is inserted through this tiny incision and is used to break the cataract into many small pieces that are removed without the need for a large incision. This means a faster recovery time, less need for glasses after surgery and a smaller risk of infection.

Laser cataract surgery is a new advancement. It offers added safety and can improve visual outcomes by reducing astigmatism and increasing precision. Laser cataract surgery is also blade-free surgery with computerized control of some of the more delicate steps in cataract surgery.

Lens Implant Improvements

As previously indicated the cloudy lens of your eye is removed in cataract surgery and replaced with a clear lens implant or intraocular lens (IOL). Previously, there were no implants and patients had to wear thick glasses after surgery just to see. Today, implants are placed directly into the eye, reducing or eliminating the need for any glasses after surgery. The newest implants - called premium lens implants, toric implants, and presbyopia-correcting implants - can even provide sharp vision at both distance and up close, reducing or eliminating the need for any kind of glasses, including reading glasses, after surgery.

Premium Intraocular Lens Implants

The premium lens implants provide patients with advantages over traditional monofocal implants and can be implanted to correct astigmatism and normal vision deficiencies.

The Astigmatism IOL is an option for those who suffer from astigmatism, a common eye condition which can lead to blurred or impaired vision if it becomes moderate or severe. The cause of the blurred and impaired vision is the result of the eye's cornea or lens having an irregular shape. A normal eye's cornea and lens have a circular shape whereas an eye with astigmatism has a longer more oval shape.

This lens is designed to correct astigmatism by changing how light is reflected as it passes through the eye. Using this treatment, patients with astigmatism not only experience relief from cataracts, but are also able to see clearly after treatment without the need for additional vision correction.

A Multifocal IOL lens implant enables patients to see at near, far and intermediate distances after cataract surgery. This lens is designed to allow it to focus light on the retina for clear vision at these varying distances. The benefit for cataract surgery patients is a high level of spectacle freedom.

Benefits of Cataract Surgery

If visual impairment interferes with your ability to read, work or do the things you enjoy then you will want to consider cataract surgery. Surgery is the only proven means of effectively treating cataracts.

For millions of cataract patients, the most obvious benefit is that they can enjoy quality of vision again colors will be brighter, images sharper and objects will be back in focus again. Many comment that they suffer less from the glare of the sun or from headlights at night.

Cataract surgery and improved vision have also been shown to improve self-confidence, reduce falls and provide patients with a greater enjoyment of social activities and hobbies, sports, walking and driving.

Dr. Robert Haverly is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and practices at Laser Eye Surgery of Erie, Inc. 311 West 24 Street, Suite 301, Erie PA. He is also credentialed to see patients at Westfield Memorial Hospital. To make an appointment with Dr. Haverly, call (814) 455-7591.



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