A cataract is a common condition that causes a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, and affects millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 65. Cloudiness develops as a result of a buildup of protein in the lens.
Cataracts cause a progressive, painless loss of vision. The lens clouds naturally as we age, causing people over the age of 65 to see a gradual reduction of vision. The exact cause of cataracts is unknown, although it may be a result of injury, certain medications, illnesses (such as diabetes), prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and smoking.
Treatment of Cataracts
If visual impairment begins to interfere with your ability to read, work or do the things you enjoy, you may want to consider cataract surgery to restore your vision. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the US, and can be performed quickly and easily with a success rate of over 90 percent and a minimal risk of complications.
Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves numbing the eyes with anesthesia and then making a tiny incision into which an ultrasonic probe is inserted. The probe breaks up, or emulsifies, the cloudy lens into tiny pieces and then suctions them out of the eye. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, a new artificial lens is implanted into the eye. This lens is known as an intraocular lens (IOL), and can often be inserted through the same incision that the old lens was removed from.
Surgery usually takes only a few minutes to perform and is painless for most patients. After the procedure, a patch may be placed over the eye and you will be asked to rest for a while. Patients can return home the very same day, but will need someone to drive them home. For the next few days, you may experience itching, mild discomfort, fluid discharge and sensitivity to light and touch. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops to help the healing process and to reduce the risk of infection.
Cataract surgery patients, as well as anyone with presbyopia seeking improvements to their overall vision, now have their choice of several different intraocular lenses to replace the aged, cloudy natural lens. These replacement lenses are now equipped with the capabilities to improve vision at all distances by utilizing the eye’s natural accommodating power.
Three of the most popular IOLs include: Crystalens®, ReZOOM® and ReSTOR®, which are all FDA-approved for the correction of near, far and intermediate vision. Each implant works in a slightly different way, so it is important to learn more about these lenses in order to find out which one is right for you. Your doctor will assist you in this decision during your consultation before surgery.
Crystalens® is a new cataract replacement lens (IOL) that works naturally with muscles in the eye to retain the eye’s ability to “accommodate” – shift focus between nearby and distant objects – after cataract surgery. It is the first FDA-approved accommodating lens. With other IOLs, patients lose this ability and require corrective measures such as glasses or contact lenses. Crystalens® can treat both cataracts and presbyopia.
Unlike rigid lenses, the flexible silicone Crystalens® features hinges that allow it to move with the eye’s muscles and accommodate seamlessly, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for vision correction.
The Crystalens® is implanted using the same, nearly risk-free cataract surgery techniques as with other IOLs.
The ReZoom® multifocal intraocular lens (IOL) helps patients focus clearly on objects at a range of distances and in varied light conditions, so they can be free of glasses or contact lenses after cataract surgery. The ReZoom® lens features five spherical segments with smooth transitions in between so the eyes focus seamlessly from one distance to the next. The center of the lens is optimized for bright light and distance vision, while the fourth zone supports near-vision in a variety of light conditions, and the outermost zone accommodates for low-light distance vision (such as when driving at night). The ReZoom® is also specially designed to reduce internal reflections and minimize glare. 92% of patients with ReZoom® implants never or only occasionally needed glasses following the procedure.
Flexible IOLs have been used for years to help patients enjoy clear vision after cataract surgery. The advanced ReSTOR® lens improves upon ordinary IOLs by providing a full range of focusing distances. A series of 12 gradual “step heights” create seamless focusing ability from near to far, while the edge of the IOL enhances distance vision. A feature called apodization also helps the eye distribute light evenly in different lighting conditions. Best of all, up to 80% of patients who use the ReSTOR® lens don’t need glasses or contact lenses after surgery.