Cataract

What is a cataract?

 

We are all born with a clear natural lens in each eye, that rests comfortably behind the iris and focuses light into the back of the eye onto the retina. As we age into the 5th, 6th and 7th decades of life, this lens slowly opacifies as the clear proteins begin to naturally degrade. At this stage, the cloudy lens is referred to as a cataract. The protein degradation and lens clouding can be accelerated by exposure to ultraviolet light. The cataract may progress more quickly in one eye than the other, and most patients develop some degree of cataract in both eyes simultaneously.

Does it need treatment?

 

Upon first receiving the cataract diagnosis, if the cataract is in its early stages, the patient’s visual acuity is likely not impaired and nothing needs to be done. The cataract can be simply monitored on an annual basis. Over time, the protein degradation continues and the lens becomes more cloudy. In this situation, more advanced cataracts can cause symptoms of visual impairment, such as blurred vision with colors appearing less bright, as in this blurred photo of a beach. At night, driving can become more difficult as symptoms like glare and halos around lights and oncoming cars often make patients uncomfortable enough to desire treatment.

How is a cataract treated?

 

A cataract is treated with a highly successful and minimally invasive surgery that removes the opaque natural lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens implant, most commonly made of a thin acrylic plastic, that remains in the eye for the rest of your life. The cataract cannot be treated in the office or with a laser, and it requires a small amount of time in the operating room with a high-resolution microscope. Cataract surgery has become the most common surgical procedure by annual volume, with more than three million Americans undergoing cataract surgery every year.

Cataract: Defined

 

 

 

What is a cataract?

 

We are all born with a clear natural lens in each eye, that rests comfortably behind the iris and focuses light into the back of the eye onto the retina. As we age into the 5th, 6th and 7th decades of life, this lens slowly opacifies as the clear proteins begin to naturally degrade. At this stage, the cloudy lens is referred to as a cataract. The protein degradation and lens clouding can be accelerated by exposure to ultraviolet light. The cataract may progress more quickly in one eye than the other, and most patients develop some degree of cataract in both eyes simultaneously.

Does it need treatment?

 

Upon first receiving the cataract diagnosis, if the cataract is in its early stages, the patient’s visual acuity is likely not impaired and nothing needs to be done. The cataract can be simply monitored on an annual basis. Over time, the protein degradation continues and the lens becomes more cloudy. In this situation, more advanced cataracts can cause symptoms of visual impairment, such as blurred vision with colors appearing less bright, as in this blurred photo of a beach. At night, driving can become more difficult as symptoms like glare and halos around lights and oncoming cars often make patients uncomfortable enough to desire treatment.

 

How is a cataract treated?

 

A cataract is treated with a highly successful and minimally invasive surgery that removes the opaque natural lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens implant, most commonly made of a thin acrylic plastic, that remains in the eye for the rest of your life. The cataract cannot be treated in the office or with a laser, and it requires a small amount of time in the operating room with a high-resolution microscope. Cataract surgery has become the most common surgical procedure by annual volume, with more than three million Americans undergoing cataract surgery every year.

Cataract Surgery: Explained

 

 

 

A cataract is treated with a highly successful and minimally invasive surgery that removes the opaque natural lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens implant, most commonly made of a thin acrylic plastic, that remains in the eye for the rest of your life. The cataract cannot be treated in the office or with a laser, and it requires a small amount of time in the operating room. Cataract surgery has become the most common surgical procedure by annual volume, with more than three million Americans undergoing cataract surgery every year.

 

Is the surgery painful? How long does it take? Am I awake during the surgery?

 

Cataract surgery is completely painless and most cataracts can be removed in under 15 minutes. We use a combination of local anesthesia to numb the eye with what’s called “monitored anesthesia care” (MAC) which involves a cocktail of relaxing medicines to help you stay comfortable and relaxed during the brief surgery. Most patients describe the experience as being in a twilight state as if about to fall asleep, and many patients have little recollection of details of the surgery itself. Every patient is different, and some are aware and can remember more details than others. It’s outpatient day surgery, as in patients go home the same day but need a driver.

 

What kind of vision can I expect after cataract surgery?

 

In an otherwise healthy eye, 20/20 uncorrected (without glasses) distance vision is the goal and is a reasonable expectation. Any issues with the retina (such as diabetic eye disease, retinal detachment) or optic nerve (such as glaucoma) may limit the best outcome. Additional reading glasses are needed to read fine print up close. There are special “multifocal” and “enhanced depth of focus” lenses designed to improve uncorrected near/reading vision, but these lenses have side effects and require an in depth discussion.

 

Can cataract surgery be combined with retina surgery?

 

Dr. Kavoussi has extensive experience as both a retina surgeon and a cataract surgeon. During his residency at Yale, he performed more cataract surgeries than any other resident in the program in over a decade, helping to improve the vision of many American war veterans at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in West Haven, CT.

 

Most retina conditions require vitrectomy surgery, which has the side effect of causing a patient’s cataract to slowly worsen over 1-2 years following vitrectomy. Nearly 90% of patients with a history of vitrectomy go on to require a return to the operating room for cataract surgery by the end of the second year.

 

Over the years, Dr. Kavoussi has integrated cataract surgery into many of his retina procedures with the goal of giving the patient the best outcome with a single surgery, thus minimizing the patient’s time in the operative room, infection risk, post-operative recovery time, and time away from work. Every patient is different on a case by case basis, and he will discuss all risks and benefits of combining the two surgeries at your pre-operative visit.