Cataract Surgery

Changes in vision quality can be alarming. Cataracts are one of the most common eye diseases faced as part of aging and, if left untreated, can cause blindness.

At Jones Eye Clinic, we specialize in offering the most advanced techniques to treat cataracts. This life-changing procedure is quick, virtually painless, and performed at our comfortable, patient-first surgery center.

What are cataracts, and what causes them?

The eye contains a clear lens positioned behind the pupil. This clear lens is responsible for focusing light onto the retina, which then converts that light into the electrical signals that go to your brain, creating the images you see. Over time, this clear lens can become cloudy, decreasing vision quality and causing glare and blurriness. This clouding of the lens is called a cataract.

Most cataracts are part of the normal aging process as proteins and fibers in the lens begin to change over time. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than half of all Americans over 80 have experienced a cataract or had cataract surgery. However, cataracts can appear at any age, and even babies can have cataracts at birth. Causes of cataract formation can include exposure to UV light, previous eye trauma or surgery, high blood pressure, diabetes, long-term use of steroid medications, or a family history of cataracts at a young age.

What are the signs and symptoms of cataracts?

People with more advanced cataracts describe it as looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. It can be difficult to notice if you have a cataract until it has progressed, but there are early signs that a cataract may be forming. At first, the cataract may only affect a small area of the lens, but as the clouding develops, light becomes distorted, leading to more noticeable symptoms.

Early signs may include:

  • Blurred or hazy vision that cannot be corrected with glasses
  • Glare while driving at night
  • Light sensitivity
  • The appearance of “halos” around lights

As the disease progresses, more noticeable symptoms include:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Needing more light for reading and other activities
  • Difficulty seeing and driving at night
  • Frequent changes to eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty seeing facial expressions
  • Yellowing or reduced brightness of colors
  • Double vision in one eye

Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes, sometimes at different rates of progression and vision difficulty. Cataracts cannot spread from one eye to the other. Additionally, different types of clouding can form in the lens leading to different visual symptoms. In the end, all areas of clouded lens will be removed. Cataracts will not recur and you will not need cataract surgery again.

How are cataracts treated?

Our advanced surgical technique is an efficient outpatient procedure using topical anesthesia and mild sedation. Once the area is numb, a process called Phacoemulsification is used to break up the cataract with a tiny device that emits ultrasound waves, softening and breaking up the cataractous lens. After removing the lens pieces, the surgeon inserts an Intraocular Lens (IOL) to replace the cataract. Different types of IOLs are available, and our team will work with you to determine the best lens for your needs. (Learn more about intraocular lenses below.)

A short time after the surgery, you will need to return to the clinic for a postoperative check. You may choose to see your local eye doctor for the remainder of post-procedure care. Many patients enjoy improved vision only hours after the surgery and see the full benefits after several weeks.

What is an Intraocular Lens?

An Intraocular Lens or IOL is usually implanted during cataract surgery to replace the clouded natural lens being removed. These lens implants are made from flexible material and folded for insertion through the micro-incision used to remove the cataract. A comprehensive eye examination and discussion with your doctor before surgery will determine what type, size, and power of IOL is best for your vision goals.

Doctors at Jones Eye Clinic have been pioneers of IOL implants since the early 1970s and continue to offer the most up-to-date treatments as technology evolves and improves.

Standard Intraocular Lenses

For more than 40 years, doctors have treated cataracts by replacing them with a conventional or standard IOL, allowing patients to focus clearly at one distance. Typically, the surgeon and patients would choose best distance vision, understanding that they would still need glasses for up-close work such as reading. This standard lens does not correct astigmatism, but more on that further below (see Toric IOL section).

Advanced Technology IOLs

In recent years, IOLs have undergone tremendous advances, giving patients more effective options to reach their vision goals. Instead of a single focal point and the need for glasses up-close, advanced technology lenses can provide a broader range of focus at far, intermediate, and close distances. The goal with these advanced lenses is to minimize patient reliance on glasses, including reading glasses and bifocals.

Advanced technology IOLs fall into several categories: Multi-Focal (MF), Extended Depth of Focus (EDOF) and Toric. Although almost all insurance companies cover the cost of cataract removal and placement of a standard IOL, most insurance companies do not cover the additional charge for Multi-Focal, EDOF, or Toric IOL.

Options for Advanced Technology IOLs

Multi-Focal Lenses

As we age, a condition called presbyopia reduces the eye’s ability to focus on nearby objects, often requiring reading glasses to see things up close. Multi-Focal IOLs work by using various optical zones allowing focus at different distances and provide the broadest range of vision and least dependence on glasses.

Extended Depth of Focus Lenses

These IOLs are similar in concept to MF lenses in that they provide a broader range of vision without glasses than a standard IOL. They generally have less glare and halo than an MF lens which is a welcome attribute. However, EDOF technology may not give as much range of vision as MF IOLs.

MF and EDOF lenses are not appropriate for everyone, and additional testing is required to determine if you are a good candidate for these advanced technology lenses. Most patients who have chosen upgraded IOLs are absolutely amazed by the results and would recommend the procedure to their friends and family who have cataracts.

Toric Lenses

Toric IOLs are an option for patients with regular astigmatism who are planning to have cataract surgery. This option treats the focus needs from cataract removal and astigmatism simultaneously. Toric versions of MF and EDOF lenses are available as well. The doctors at Jones Eye Clinic will recommend the best option for you during your consultation.

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