Cataracts are among the most common age-related eye conditions; it is estimated that over 60% of Americans will develop a cataract at some point during their lifetimes. This condition is characterized by the lens of the eye becoming cloudy, impairing vision to varying degrees.
The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina. Once it reaches the retina, light is changed into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.
Who is at Risk for Cataracts?
Anyone can get a Cataract. Cataracts occur most often in people over 45 years old, and even more in people over 65. Adults may also develop Cataracts as a side effect of certain medications such as corticosteroids used to treat asthma or as a result of systemic diseases such as Diabetes. Some children are born with congenital Cataracts, which are unusual but may occur for a number of reasons related to the mother’s health during pregnancy.
It is generally agreed other risk factors include:
- Exposure to ultraviolet light
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Certain diseases like diabetes
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
Symptoms of a cataract may include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Sensitivity to light, especially bright lights from oncoming car headlights
- Need to get closer to see distant objects, such as road signs
- Loss of depth perception
- A change in the color of the pupil to a milky white or yellow
How is a Cataract Removed?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure performed using the most advanced methods available. The procedure is painless and involves no stitches, patches, or injections. This suture-less, self-sealing cataract removal method was developed by Dr. Paul Ernest. During the cataract removal surgery, ultrasound is used to break up the cloudy eye lens and the lens pieces are removed. A new intraocular lens is implanted using a tiny, self-sealing incision that heals very quickly.
Because no blood vessels are cut, there is no bleeding. There are no stitches to remove and only a local or topical anesthesia is used. Patients heal very quickly and resume normal activities the next day.
As your vision begins to decline as a result of your cataract, you may have trouble doing your normal daily activities. Once your cataracts start to interfere with the things you enjoy to do like reading, knitting, golfing or driving – it may be time for you to discuss cataract surgery with your doctor.
What is an Intraocular Lens (IOL)?
Surgery to treat cataracts is an outpatient procedure where an eye surgeon removes the clouded natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens (IOL). There are many different options when it comes to IOLs, for a description of the options visit our Lens Options for Cataract Surgery page.
Are lasers used in cataract surgery?
We now performing Laser Cataract Surgery using the femtosecond laser in addition to performing traditional cataract surgery. Specialty Eye Institute was the first practice in Michigan to use this state-of-the-art technology.
The cost of cataract surgery will vary based on your insurance coverage, your insurance deductibles or co-pays, and which lens option you choose. Cataract surgery is covered by most insurance plans along with a standard replacement lens. Some of the lens options may be an additional out-of-pocket expense.
What can I expect the day of surgery?
Cataract surgery is done on an outpatient basis. You may be asked to skip breakfast and avoid drinking liquids, depending on the time of your surgery. Also, do not wear eye makeup, lotion, cologne, perfume, hairspray or any other hair products on the day of surgery. You will need to bring a driver with you that will stay for the entire time.
Please expect to spend several hours at the surgery center the day of your surgery. Upon arrival at the facility, you will be given eye drops to dilate your pupils and perhaps a sedative to help you relax. A local or topical anesthetic will make the operation painless. After your procedure you will spend some time in recovery, your vision will be checked and then you will be released to go home.
What will my recovery be like?