Seeing with cataracts is similar to looking through a fogged-up window or dirty car windshield — if left untreated, cataracts can make it difficult to read, drive a car, watch TV, or recognize faces.
When cataracts start to affect your ability to perform daily tasks, it may be time to consider cataract surgery. Cataract surgery can restore vision that was lost to cataracts and significantly improve your quality of life.
Cataract surgery has undergone numerous advances in the last decade, shortening both the procedure time and the recovery time. New lens implants such as the Tecnis, ReSTOR, and Tecnis Symfony lenses are now available, as is an innovative measurement system called the ORA. Patients may also opt to have FEMTO laser-assisted surgery.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a buildup of proteins that form in the lens of the eye. Located directly behind the iris, the lens is a naturally clear, flexible structure that helps to focus light on the retina so visual information can be processed by the brain. The lens must remain clear in order for the light to refract properly and reach the retina — over time, a clouded lens can result in blurred vision.
What causes cataracts?
Cataracts most often occur as a natural part of the aging process. Around age 40, the proteins inside the lens start to break down and gradually clump together. A cataract can take years to develop — most people don’t notice the vision loss until after age 60. Additionally, several risk factors may accelerate the process, including a family history of cataracts; diabetes; eye injuries; eye surgery, or general trauma to the eye; overexposure to sunlight; extended use of corticosteroids; smoking; and alcohol abuse.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
- Common signs of cataracts include:
- Blurry vision
- Poor up-close vision
- Double vision
- Glare or sensitivity to light
- Poor night vision
- Faded or subdued colors
Can I prevent cataracts?
While it’s not possible to prevent a cataract from forming, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:
- If you’re over age 65, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with dilating drops every year.
- Wear UV-resistant sunglasses to protect the eyes from sun damage.
- Make sure you have an up-to-date prescription for your glasses or contacts.
- Don’t Smoke.
- If you have diabetes, carefully maintain your blood sugar levels.
How do you treat cataracts?
In the early stages of cataract development, eyeglasses and brighter lighting may help lessen vision problems caused by cataracts. As they progress, however, the most effective way to treat cataracts is with cataract surgery, one of the safest and most common surgeries available today. Furthermore, new lens technologies, such as the Tecnis or Restor premium lenses, offer patients a wider range of vision choices.
What happens during cataract surgery?
Prior to the cataract procedure, a patient with a cataract is evaluated to determine if they have any other eye conditions that could affect results. In addition, extensive measurements are taken to determine the appropriate lens and lens/IOL power. Patients have the option of having FEMTO-laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS), in which a laser is used to make all incisions, correct astigmatism, and soften the cataract before removal. Additionally, a patient also has the option of utilizing an additional measurement system, the Optiwave Refractive Analysis (ORA) during the procedure. ORA measurements are taken after the cataract is removed, but before a new lens is implanted, allowing adjustments to the IOL power if necessary.
Next, a formal evaluation of the patient’s visual needs and goals occurs. Based on the exam findings, eye measurements, and the patient’s goals, a decision is made on the best implant for that patient, which may include implants that correct somewhat for distance (monofocals), or more premium implants that corrects for astigmatism (Toric) or near and far vision (Tecnis or Restor multifocal).
During the actual cataract procedure, an anesthetic gel is used to numb the eye, then one of NY Vision Group’s experienced surgeons will use a laser to make a tiny incision near the edge of the cornea. The clouded lens is then broken into pieces, removed through the incision and replaced with an artificial lens implant, known as an intraocular lens (IOL). No stitches are required, as the tiny incisions heal on their own. Most patients have cataracts removed from one eye at a time in order to maximize recovery time.
Femto-laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS), mentioned above, the most advanced form of cataract surgery available, is an option for patients. This laser technology results in a highly precise procedure with a very low risk of complications after surgery.
What intraocular lens (IOL) options are there?
Traditionally, the only intraocular lenses available to cataract patients were “monofocal”. This type of lens corrects unaided vision at only one point, either distance or near, depending on the power of the implant. Most of the time, an implant power is selected to completely correct a patient’s distance vision so that after the procedure, the patient will only need reading glasses.
As a result of new technologies, new multifocal lenses such as Restor, Tecnis and Tecnis Symfony can now correct a patient’s distance and near vision. Other lenses such as the AcrySof Toric lens can reduce astigmatism.
Prior to cataract surgery, we will discuss with you the various lens options to help make an informed decision. In addition, we will discuss the possible side effects, risks, benefits/alternatives, and important pre and post-operative instructions. We will also review the insurance plans accepted by the practice and alternate financing options.
Whether you choose monofocal or multifocal lenses, there are risks and possible complications of cataract surgery. While rare and usually minor, they could permanently affect your vision. Complications include the worsening of your vision, bleeding or infection. It is essential that patients follow their pre and post-operative instructions and contact us if any unusual symptoms occur.
What is the recovery time for cataract surgery?
Not long ago, cataract surgery required a hospital stay. Now the surgery is performed on an out-patient basis and the procedure typically takes less than 10 minutes. Patients can see immediately after the procedure, but the final visual result will take a few days. Covering your eyes for the first 24 hours to protect against foreign objects, dust, water is important, and you will also be given a prescription for special eye drops to help heal the eye and prevent infection.
Cataract surgery, NY
At NY Vision Group, cataract surgery is performed by Dr. Harry Koster. Dr. Koster is a board-certified ophthalmologist and cataract specialist. Dr. Koster has over 20 years of experience as a cataract surgeon in New York, in addition to his renowned experience in laser vision correction. A pioneer of cutting-edge medical technology, Dr. Koster is also one of the first doctors to offer multifocal lenses to candidates for cataract surgery in the New York City area.
NY Vision Group’s surgeons perform cataract surgery at NY Vision Group outpatient facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Book online for a free consultation or call (212) 243-2300 to speak with a surgical coordinator today.