What is a cataract?
The eye has a lens within it which focuses light onto the retina in the back of the eye. This lens is normally perfectly clear. A cataract is simply a clouded natural lens within the eye.
Why do we get cataracts?
Most cataracts are simply due to aging. However, cataracts occur more often in diabetics and smokers, and in those with a previous history of eye surgery or trauma. Cataracts also develop more often in those with a history of prolonged steroid use. Cataracts sometimes run in families, too.
How do cataracts affect vision?
Vision changes associated with cataract include blurriness, glare, and dimming of the vision. Patients with cataracts often complain of poor night vision, needing more light to see, or that it seems as if they are “looking through a dirty windshield.”
How are cataracts treated?
There are no medicines to treat cataracts. Fortunately, modern surgical techniques allow for the safe, comfortable, and minimally-invasive surgical removal of cataracts. The surgeons at Hillsboro Eye Clinic perform small-incision, sutureless microsurgery to remove the clouded cataract lens and replace it with a state-of-the-art artificial intraocular lens (IOL).
What is the purpose of the intraocular lens (IOL)?
The IOL replaces the natural lens and functions to focus light on the retina inside the eye, thus restoring vision. The standard modern IOL implant has advanced optics and provides patients with outstanding vision after cataract surgery, but it has limitations. First, it does not correct astigmatism. Second, it only provides focused vision at one distance. Therefore, people who choose this lens implant notice marked improvement in their vision after cataract surgery, but they still need glasses, almost always for reading and often for distance vision, too.
Can astigmatism be treated during cataract surgery?
Astigmatism is a common form of refractive error causing blurred vision. People with astigmatism need glasses to see clearly. IOL technology has advanced in recent years to allow the correction of astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery by the implantation of a special astigmatism-correcting IOL. These IOLs offer all the advantages of the standard IOLs while also correcting astigmatism. Patients who opt for these lenses typically enjoy excellent distance vision without glasses after surgery, though reading glasses are often still required.
Do any intraocular lenses (IOLs) correct both distance and near vision?
For the right patient, some special IOLs do correct both near and distance vision. One of these IOLs is accommodating (Crystalens), meaning it moves forward within the eye to focus at a closer range, and then relaxes to focus at a distance. Other IOLs are multifocal (Tecnis, Restor), indicating the IOL has rings of different powers, thereby focusing at distance and near at the same time. These lenses are not for every cataract patient, but for the right person they can provide complete independence from glasses after cataract surgery.
When is the time right for cataract surgery?
After a thorough eye examination, the Hillsboro Eye Clinic surgeon will have a detailed discussion with the cataract patient about the patient’s symptoms caused by cataracts. Generally speaking, cataract surgery is appropriate when the patient’s frustration from worsening vision outweighs the small risk associated with surgery.