Cataract surgery has evolved rapidly over the last two decades. The technological advancements as well as the skill of the surgeons has lead to a much higher rate of success with better visual results and fewer complications.
Cataract surgery is needed when the eyes natural lens has a cloudiness over it causing impaired vision. The technological advancements as well as the skill of the surgeons has led to a much higher rate of success with better visual results and fewer complications.
Phacoemulsification is the technique most commonly used to remove a cataract. This involves the use of an instrument that applies high energy sound waves to fragment the cataract into small pieces so that it can be removed through a small incision. The incision size is generally 2.2 to 3.0 mm. This small incision size allows the surgeon to have better control of the surgery, more rapid removal of the cataract, and a self-sealing incision that does not require sutures. This “no stitch” incision heals rapidly and allows quick return of vision.
Another technique used is the Femtosecond Laser. This procedure is referred to as “Laser Cataract Surgery“. The Femtosecond Laser can be used to perform some or all the steps in the above paragraph. Our practice has access to the Catalys® Femtosecond Laser to perform cataract surgery. The possible benefits of the laser includes the ability to make more precise and consistent incisions in the cornea, a more circular and centered capsulotomy, and to pre-soften the cataract so less ultrasound energy is necessary with the phacoemulsification device. This laser is also used to reduce astigmatism. Our doctors will perform a thorough examination to determine if cataract surgery using the CATALYS® Femtosecond Laser is right for you.
The advent of soft foldable lens implants allows the incision to remain small. Previously, the cataract could be removed through a small incision, but the incision had to be enlarged to place a lens implant within the eye. Since the cataract is a cloudiness of the natural lens of the eye, the natural lens is removed during the course of the surgery. This also removes some of the focusing power of the eye which must be restored by placing an artificial lens or intraocular lens implant within the eye. Prior to lens implants, thick “Coke bottle” glasses or contact lenses were required to restore this focusing power to the eye. With these new implants, the implant can be folded and placed through the small incision without enlarging it. This reduces recovery time and greatly lessens surgically induced astigmatism.
Our practice offers three different types of Intraocular Lens (IOL) implants. Choosing the right intraocular lens implant for your needs and lifestyle is an important decision. Dr. Bibart and Dr. Higgins will discuss the options with you and help you to select the lens implant that will provide you with the best possible visual outcome.
Changes in anesthetic technique have also allowed patients to return to normal activities more quickly. General anesthesia is rarely used now. Local anesthetic using sedatives and injections around the eye to freeze the eye are also seldom used. Most frequently, our physicians are using newer techniques which involve the use of topical anesthesia or eye drops to “numb” the eye. No shots are used with this technique which allows for vision shortly after the surgery and less chance of bruising due to anesthetic injections (With this technique, most people are able to resume normal activities within 1 week).
The final component to a successful surgery is a thorough discussion with your surgeon. It is important to understand the benefits and develop realistic expectations as well as to understand alternative treatments and possible complications.
The state of cataract surgery now is at a very high level. It is not necessary for a cataract to become “ripe” before it is removed. In past times, most surgeons would wait until visual function became extremely poor due to the high complication rate of surgery. Cataract surgery is so successful now, the main indication for removing a cataract is when the blurred vision from the cataract reaches a point that it interferes with the patient’s daily activities such as reading, driving, or other hobbies such as golf and sewing.
For more information about advanced cataract treatments at Kalamazoo Ophthalmology, click here to schedule a cataract evaluation or call us at (800) 537-3327 today.