When a doctor tells you that you have a cataract, and it should be removed, it may be a frightening prospect. But, when you understand what a cataract is, how it will be removed, and, most of all, the priceless rewards cataract surgery can bring, you're likely to wish you'd had the procedure sooner. After all, when the cataract is gone, your vision can be clearer, brighter, and sharper than it's been for a long, long time.
Today's cataract surgery isn't just the end of clouded vision. It's the beginning of something wonderful.
Just what, exactly, is a cataract? simply put, a cataract is a "clouding" of the lens in your eye. 1
The lens, located just behind the iris (the colored part of your eye), works like the lens of a camera. It picks up images, then focuses the lights, colors, and shapes on the retina (the transmitter, located on the back of the eye, that sends the images to your brain).
The lens, made mostly of protein and water, can become clouded - so clouded it keeps the light and images from getting through the lens to the retina. Eye injury, certain diseases, or even some medications can cause the clouding. But, in over 90% of the cases, clouding is caused by the natural aging process.
A cataract can be the reason sharp images become blurred, and seeing things at night is more difficult. It's why the eyeglasses or contact lenses that used to help you read - or do any everyday, simple task - don't seem to be helping.
A cataract is not a "film" over the eye, and neither diet nor lasers will make it go away. The best way to treat a cataract is to remove the old, clouded lens, and replace it with a new one.
Cataract surgery is one of the safest procedures. It's also one of the most successful.
Modern medicine has made great advances in cataract surgery. Today, millions of people every year undergo this vision-improving procedure. And, they see excellent results.
It's a simple operation. A tiny incision is made in the eye. Through this incision, the surgeon inserts an ultrasonic probe. The probe, about the size of a pen tip, breaks the cloudy lens into pieces. The same probe vacuums these tiny pieces out of the eye. This process is called phacoemulsification or phaco.
Once the capsule has been emptied of the clouded lens, the next step is to replace it, that is, to implant an artificial lens that will do the work of the old, natural lens.
How will it feel?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. You'll spend just a few hours at the site. Because your eyes will be numbed with anesthesia, you should feel nothing.
After the surgery, you'll be given a few hours to rest. Then, the very same day, you can go home. The next day, your doctor will probably want to see you for an evaluation. Drops may be prescribed to guard against infection and help eyes heal. For a few days, you may need to wear a patch, especially at night, to keep away irritants.
Your new lens. As good as the lens it replaces.
Today, even the artificial lenses that replace a cataract patient's own natural lenses have changed dramatically.
Thanks to the latest advances in technology and materials, many artificial lenses (called IOLs or intraocular lenses) have significant clinical advantages over previous lens models.
One clear - very clear - example of this is an IOL called the ACRYSOF® Single-Piece IOL.
This is the only lens crafted entirely from ACRYSOF® acrylic, a soft, flexible material that was developed specifically for use as an IOL. This material behaves well in the eye, contributing to excellent long-term results.
Also, the ACRYSOF® Single-Piece IOL is designed to conform to the natural shape of the lens capsule. That helps it stay stable and centered in the eye.
Your doctor will be glad to give you even more information about the ACRYSOF® lens.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks. You and your doctor should consider the potential risk and benefits, and determine if cataract surgery, and the implantation of an ACRYSOF® lens, are right for you.
When the clouds have gone away
When your cataract has been removed, and a new, clear lens has taken its place, it may seem like a miracle. All the things you couldn't see clearly are bright, clear, and vivid again. In fact, many people will tell you they haven't seen life so clearly in years.
Once you see how good the world looks, you'll be so glad - like millions of others just like you - that a cataract is one thing that won't cloud your world anymore.
Caution: Federal (U.S.) law restricts the sale of this device to or on the order of a physician. U.S. Patent Numbers: 5,290,892, 5,403,901, 5,433,746, 5,603,774, 5,674,960, 5,716,403, 5,861,031 and 5,882,421 Description: ACRYSOF® Posterior Chamber Intraocular Lenses are indicated for the replacement of the human lens to achieve visual correction of aphakia in patients sixty years and older. These lenses are intended for placement in the capsular bag.
Warnings: Careful preoperative evaluation and sound clinical judgment should be used by the surgeon to decide the risk/benefit ratio before implanting a lens in a patient with any of the conditions described in the Directions For Use labeling. Some adverse reactions which have been associated with the implantation of intraocular lenses are: hypopyon, intraocular infection, acute corneal decompensation, and secondary surgical intervention. Precautions: do not resterilize; do not store over 45°c; Use only sterile irrigating solutions such as BSS® or BSS Plus®.
1. Lang GK. 0phthalmology . New york, NY: Thieme, New York; 2000.
© Copyright, Alcon Laboratories, Inc., 2001