Cataracts will affect almost everyone eventually. The timing of surgical intervention is critical to achieve the best outcome and quality of vision possible. Good timing may also lower the rate of complications and prevent blindness or permanent vision impairment in many cases. Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye gets cloudy and thick. Changes in vision resulting from cataract development can range from very subtle to extreme. Increased glare or trouble with night driving and difficulty reading are the most common presentations.
Cataracts can lead to blindness if not treated
Cataracts can progress to the point of complete loss of vision. They can lead to various visual complaints, such as:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty seeing up close, engaging in activities like knitting, word puzzles, card games, etc.
- Difficulty seeing road signs until you are ‘on top of them’
- Glare when driving at dusk, at night or on rain-slicked roads; avoiding late afternoon or evening plans for fear of driving in twilight conditions
- Increased dependency on prescription glasses; difficulty seeing well even with updated prescription glasses
- Frequent changes in glasses prescription
- Bothered by bright sunlight, bright indoor lights, fluorescent lights
Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the United States. Waiting for a cataract to become “ripe” is an antiquated concept. Cataract surgery is undertaken when the cataract begins to interfere with a patient’s quality of life or visual functioning. The cloudy lens is removed surgically and the artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted.
Dr. Zieker performs cataract surgery on an outpatient basis, using mild sedation and local anesthesia. He uses the latest, cutting-edge laser technology, ultrasound technology, with a micro-incision that doesn’t require stitches. The surgery is done in the operating room where you are conscious, but sedated. The cataract is removed through a small corneal incision using ultrasound energy. This process is called phacoemulsification. It is exceedingly rare to have any pain or discomfort with this technique. The surgery can take from 10 to 30 minutes and you will be at the surgery center for three to four hours.
Those with astigmatism may be candidates for refractive cataract surgery and have both conditions corrected with one procedure, optimizing visual outcomes.
You will need someone to drive you home from the procedure. Most patients are driving and back to work in one to two days. You will be seen in our office for a postoperative visit the following day. You will begin an eyedrop regimen that lasts four to six weeks. During that time, it is recommended that you avoid vigorous activity including heavy lifting and bending. You also need to avoid itching/rubbing the eye so that it can heal properly. Additional visits are typically scheduled for one week and one month post-surgery. If both eyes require surgery, they are typically scheduled two to three weeks apart.
The following videos offer additional information about the condition and treatment options.