A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural crystalline lens that may affect one or both eyes. When left untreated, cataracts can progress over time and lead to severe loss of vision. At Ophthalmic Consultants of Connecticut, we offer our patients the most advanced types of cataract surgery. In addition to removing the eye’s clouded lens, our doctors use leading-edge intraocular lens implants (IOLs) to provide you with clear postoperative vision at most distances.
What Causes Cataracts?
Although often caused by the aging process, cataracts may develop as a result of several other risk factors, including:
- Certain medications
- Eye injuries
- Chronic eye infections
- Exposure to sunlight
- Environmental toxins
- Dietary deficiency
Individuals suffering from mild cataracts may not develop symptoms until the condition has progressed. The most common symptoms associated with intermediate to advanced cataracts include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty reading fine print
- Color distortion
- Double vision
In addition, as cataracts advance, patients often experience frequent changes in their eyeglass prescription.
Cataract surgery is a procedure during which the eye’s cataract-diseased lens is extracted from the eye and replaced with an artificial implant. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia.
Our surgeons perform the advanced, micro-incision, no-stitch cataract surgery and laser cataract surgery. After ensuring maximum patient comfort, the surgeon creates a tiny, self-sealing incision in the eye. Next, he or she uses an ultrasonic probe to break up and remove the crystalline lens from the eye. This step is known as phacoemulsification. An IOL is then placed in the eye through the same incision.
OCC offers a wide range of premium IOLs, including AcrySof ReSTOR, AcrySof Toric, Tecnis Multifocal and Crystalens. Your OCC eye surgeon will help you determine which IOL is best for your unique vision needs.
Cataract Surgery Candidacy
Your regular eye doctor will monitor the progression of your cataracts and let you know when it’s time for cataract surgery. Your candidacy for the procedure is confirmed during your consultation appointment at OCC.
After cataract surgery, most patients are able to return to work and their daily routine within one to two days. Following surgery, you will be given detailed postoperative instructions and antibiotic medicine, as well as mild painkiller, if necessary. It is recommended that you wear an eye shield at all times for the first few days and then at bedtime after that. Full recovery is generally achieved within a few weeks. You may experience mild fluctuating vision and blurriness during the healing process. Many of our cataract surgery patients are able to reduce their dependence on corrective eyewear after surgery.
For more information about cataract surgery, please read our frequently asked questions section below or contact us today to schedule your vision correction consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Surgery the Only Way to Treat Cataracts?
- Am I a Good Candidate for Cataract Surgery?
- Who Will My Physician Be?
- Is Cataract Surgery Painful?
- How Is Laser Cataract Surgery Different From Traditional Cataract Surgery?
- What Is an IOL?
- What Type of IOLs Are Available?
- Will I Have to Wear Glasses Following Cataract Surgery?
- What Are the Risks / Side Effects Associated With Cataract Surgery?
- What Is the Recovery Period Like?
Is Surgery the Only Way to Treat Cataracts?
In its early stages, cataracts might only mildly impair vision. In these cases, corrective eyewear may be an appropriate treatment option. Rarely, cataracts do not progress enough to necessitate the surgical removal of the cataractous lenses. However, cataracts often progress over time, eventually causing severe vision impairment. At this point, surgical intervention is usually necessary to remove the cataract-diseased lens and replace it with an implanted lens.
Am I Good Candidate for Cataract Surgery?
Scheduling a consultation with an eye doctor is the only way to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for cataract surgery. Generally, the ophthalmologist will not recommend surgery for individuals who have early-stage cataracts and are able to see sufficiently with the help of glasses or contact lenses. However, if your cataracts have progressed enough that they are interfering with your ability to perform daily functions, such as driving, surgery will generally be recommended.
If you have another eye condition unrelated to your cataracts that is impairing your vision, you may not be an appropriate candidate for surgery, because removing the cataract-diseased eye lens will not address the other vision condition, which will continue to impair your vision. However, if the cataract is so dense that it is interfering with your eye doctor’s ability to see your retina, located at the back of your eye, the surgeon might recommend cataract surgery, so he or she can perform further retinal evaluation.
Who Will My Physician Be?
Generally, you will have two physicians: your personal eye doctor who provides you with pre- and post-surgical care and your OCC eye surgeon who performs your cataract removal procedure. If you do not have an optometrist that you see regularly, we will be happy to provide you with one.
Is Cataract Surgery Painful?
Thanks to the use of topical anesthetic eye drops, which are administered prior to the start of your procedure, cataract surgery is generally considered painless and is well tolerated. However, some patients experience mild discomfort during the procedure.
How Is Laser Cataract Surgery Different From Traditional Cataract Surgery?
With traditional cataract surgery, the ophthalmologist uses a microkeratome (surgical blade) to create the self-sealing incision in the eye through which the cataract-diseased lens is removed. With laser cataract surgery, the eye surgeon uses a femtosecond laser instead of a microkeratome to create the incision, as well as the anterior capsulotomy (the opening of the capsule that encases the lens). In addition, the surgeon also uses a laser instead of an ultrasonic probe (which is used in traditional cataract surgery) to fragment the cataractous lens for easy removal.
There are several benefits to having laser cataract surgery. One of the main advantages is that the incisions are created with laser precision, ensuring that they seal properly following the procedure, thus decreasing the risk of complications.
What Is an IOL?
“IOL” stands for intraocular lens implant. Once your surgeon has removed the cataract-diseased lens during surgery, he or she replaces it with a permanent IOL, which will allow you to see clearly following the procedure.
What Types of IOLs Are Available?
At OCC, we offer several IOL options, including standard IOLs. We also offer premium IOLs, including: AcrySof and Tecnis multifocal IOLs, which allow patients to see well at multiple distances; astigmatism-correcting AcrySof toric IOLs; and Crystalens accommodating IOLs, which move with the eye’s muscle activity, allowing the eye to focus at several distances. Depending on your choice of IOL, you may be able to forgo the use of glasses completely following cataract surgery.
Will I Have to Wear Glasses Following Cataract Surgery?
Again, depending on your IOL choice, you may be able to forgo entirely the use of prescription eyewear following surgery. However, individuals who choose standard IOLs or those with certain vision conditions, such as presbyopia, might still require glasses to see at certain distances, such as up close.
What Are the Risks / Side Effects Associated With Cataract Surgery?
As with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks associated with cataract surgery, including swelling, pain, infection and bleeding, as well as retinal detachment, in extremely rare cases. However, the Connecticut cataract surgeons of OCC are highly experienced and take every precaution available to minimize the risks. If you experience excessive pain, loss of vision or nausea following your procedure, contact OCC immediately.
What Is the Recovery Period Like?
Most patients are able to return to work or their usual routine within 24 to 48 hours after surgery. After your procedure, you will be given detailed instructions about how to care for your eyes over the next several days. You will also be given antibiotics to take as directed, as well as a mild pain reliever, if necessary. We highly recommend that you wear an eye shield at all times, for the first several days following your procedure, and then at bedtime after that.
During the healing process, you may notice minor fluctuations in your vision, or blurred vision. These symptoms should improve over time, and you should be fully recovered within a few weeks of your procedure.
Please contact us for more information on cataract surgery or to schedule your consultation appointment.