May 7, 2002 at 5:40 PM CDT - Updated July 1 at 5:30 PM
More than 50 percent of people over the age of 60, and quite a few younger than that, suffer from cataracts. In fact, cataracts are so common it is said that everyone will develop a cataract if they live long enough.
What Is A Cataract?
A cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye's natural lens that interferes with light passing through to the retina. Sufferers usually describe the condition as being similar to looking through a waterfall, or a piece of wax paper, with a gradual blurring or dimming of vision.
Reading may become more difficult and driving a car can actually become dangerous. Cataract sufferers may also be troubled by a bothersome glare, halos around lights, or even double vision, and as the cataract becomes worse, frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions may become necessary.
Currently there is no medical treatment to reverse or prevent the development of cataracts. Once they form, there is only one way to achieve clear vision again, and that is to physically remove the cataract from the eye.
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 performed on an out-patient bases and takes only a few minutes. Patients can then go home and rest in comfort and avoid the inconvenience and expense of staying in a hospital.
At The Center For Sight, your cataract will be removed with an advanced technique called phacoemulsification, or small-incision cataract surgery. Using only a topical anesthetic, a "Stet" incision of about 1/8" is made in the sclera (white part of eye), or in the clear cornea (just above the area where the cornea meets the sclera). The cataract is then broken into microscopic particles using high energy sound waves and gently suctioned from the eye. Then, to compensate for the removal of the eye's natural lens, an intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted into the eye. After using this special "Stet" incision, the eye remains tightly sealed by the natural outward pressure within your eye.
Benefits of Self-Sealing and Topical Anesthesia
Topical anesthesia and self-sealing incisions have taken cataract surgery to the next level. Many patients are able to see with clear vision much sooner after surgery. In most cases it is now possible to return to daily activities such as driving and reading almost immediately. With "eye drop" anesthesia, there is no need for a painful, needle injection which delays vision restoration and could cause temporary swelling and skin discoloration.
Successful Cataract Surgery
Everyone heals somewhat differently, but many cataract patients report improvement in their vision almost immediately after the procedure. Most patients return to their normal work and lifestyle routines within a day or two.
According to a survey conducted by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, most cataract patients had their vision successfully improved after surgery. Many patients experience vision that is actually better than before they developed cataracts. Once removed, cataracts will not grow back. The results of surgery are permanent, giving patients a lifetime of better vision.
The Choice is Yours
It can take months or years for a cataract to develop. How do you know when it is time to have a cataract removed? The answer is quite simple. The time to have your cataract removed is when you believe your quality of life would be better if you could see better. Only you can decide when it is time to open your eyes to a bright, clear world.