Rohr Eye and Laser Center Rohr Eye and Laser Center

What are Cataracts?

What is Involved in Having Cataract Surgery?

Cataracts occur as part of the normal aging process. Studies show that virtually everyone over age 65 has some cataract formation in their eyes! Cataracts can severely reduce your vision. At one time, cataracts were a leading cause of blindness throughout the world. But today, fortunately, they can be treated. Modern surgical techniques, intraocular lens implantation, and "same-day surgery" make cataract surgery safe, fast, and effective.

A cataract occurs when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy. As the cataract develops, the cloudiness no longer allows the lens to properly focus light on the back of the eye. This unfocused light causes the vision to look blurry or hazy. The development of cataracts has been associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. They are particularly prevalent in persons who spend a lot of time in the sun, such as fishermen. There is nothing you can do to prevent the formation of cataracts. Treatment is indicated when decreased vision affects your everyday activities or hobbies.

The Procedure for Cataract Surgery

A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy so that it can no longer focus on real-world images. Patients with cataracts see the world as very hazy because light cannot pass freely through the lens to be focused on the back of the eye. The only way to remove a cataract is to remove the lens itself.

Cataract surgery is a procedure that removes the cloudy lens from the eye. Today, this procedure can be accomplished quickly, and no stitches are needed. A local anesthetic is used, and the surgeon makes a small incision in the eye's outer covering. Then a technique is used, called phacoemulsification, which removes the lens through the small incision. At least 95% of the patients receive an artificial lens implant after the cataract is removed. This lens is called an intraocular lens or IOL and is made from the same plastic as certain types of contact lenses. In some cases, a special tiny foldable IOL is used for implantation. This type of lens is inserted into the eye through a very small opening, only 1/8 inch. Once in the eye, the lens unfolds to its full size.

The IOL replaces 1/3 of the eye's focusing power of the natural lens. Without this lens, the eye cannot focus. In a small number of cases, an IOL is not used, and the patient must wear glasses or contact lenses to help them see. IOLs are beneficial because they are permanent in the eye. They do not get lost, like glasses, or have to be replaced, like contact lenses. Also, many times, the focusing power of the IOL can be determined so that it closely matches your eye.

This cataract surgery technique has many benefits: no hospital stay is needed, there is little or no discomfort, quick recovery time, and the vision after surgery is typically very good.