Cataract Surgery in Chesapeake, VA
What are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye; cataract surgery is performed to improve vision by replacing the clouded lens with an artificial one. Cataracts affect millions of people in the United States each year. Most cataracts are the result of aging, though some form as a result of genetic factors, disease or injury. Cataract surgery is common, and considered safe and effective.
If you have cataracts and are interested in learning more about cataract surgery in Chesapeake VA and surrounding areas, call Southside Eye Care today to schedule an appointment.
Who is a Good Candidate for Surgery?
Cataracts caused by aging develop gradually, and patients may not notice the early vision changes they cause. It is only when their cataracts start interfering with vision that patients may become aware of them. An ophthalmologic examination will detect cataracts, and rule out other causes for vision issues, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. Patients who become aware of visual difficulties related to cataracts usually experience, especially at night, clouded, blurred or dim vision.
What are the Benefits of Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery benefits are many, greatly enhancing the quality of life. They include the following:
- Improved quality of vision (sharper images, brighter colors)
- Less difficulty with routine tasks (particularly night driving)
- Decreased dependency on eyeglasses
- Greater independence, regardless of age or disability
- Greater safety
Research indicates that the improved vision provided by cataract surgery reduces the risk of falls, making exercise, sports and hobbies safer. This, combined with the improved ability to read, recognize faces, and perform everyday activities with greater ease, results in improved physical health, increased sociability and longer life expectancy.
How is Cataract Surgery Performed?
After the pupil is dilated, and the area in and around the eye is numbed with anesthesia, a tiny incision is made to insert an ultrasonic probe. The probe emulsifies (breaks up) the cloudy lens into tiny pieces that are then suctioned out of the eye. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, an artificial lens is implanted.
The new lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), is often inserted through the original incision. Some varieties of IOLs serve multiple purposes, such as blocking ultraviolet light or working as bifocals. Depending on the type of IOL used, sutures may or may not be needed.
Surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis in a doctor’s office, takes only 20 to 30 minutes, and is relatively painless. A very high percentage of patients demonstrates improved vision after the procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is a Cataract Removed?
Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, with over 3 million procedures every year. A small incision is made in the front surface of the eye with a scalpel or laser. A circular hole is cut in the anterior capsule, the thin membrane that encloses the eye’s natural lens. The cataract-clouded lens is then broken up with ultrasound energy and the pieces are vacuumed away. One the entire lens is removed, it is replaced with an artificial replacement lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL).
When is Surgery Needed?
Cataracts can cause blurry vision, and increase the glare from lights. In their early stages, cataracts usually are not troublesome but, as they thicken, surgery to remove them may be required. Typically, surgery is needed because cataracts are interfering with everyday activities, or the treatment of another eye problem.
Will I Need to Have Surgery on Both Eyes?
Cataracts usually develop independently. However, the factors that led to one eye developing a cataract also are likely to affect the other eye. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but one eye is often worse than the other. Most people will replace both lenses.
What are the Risks of Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is the most successful surgery performed in the United States. It is safe and prevents eventual potential blindness. Complications are rare, and when something does occur it can usually be corrected. Your risk of complication is greater if you have another eye disease such as macular degeneration or glaucoma. Danger signs of complications after cataract surgery include increased pain in or redness of the eye, light flashes or floaters, diminished vision, nausea, vomiting or intense coughing. These are the risks with cataract surgery:
- Drooping eyelid
- Dislocation of the IOL
- Retinal detachment
- Secondary cataract
- Loss of vision
What is Recovery Like After Surgery?
After your surgery, you’ll have an eye patch on your treated eye. We may also have you wear a protective shield, even when sleeping, for several days. Your vision will initially be blurry, but it rapidly improves in just a couple days. Your eye may be somewhat itchy, but you must not rub or put any pressure on the treated eye. You’ll need to avoid any heavy lifting or anything that raises blood pressure into your face. We’ll provide eye drops to prevent inflammation and infection and to control your eye pressure.
Full healing can take up to two months, but you can return to most daily activities in just a few days. Depending on your lens choice, you may or may not require glasses for some tasks after your surgery. If both your eyes have cataracts, we schedule the second eye for surgery one to two months after the first; they are not done at the same time.
Are Cataracts Hereditary?
Although there are rare cases where cataracts are present at birth and are passed on from the mother, cataracts are not genetic in nature. They are due to age-related changes in the lens of the eye, due mainly to protein accumulation over time.
Will I Need Eyeglasses After Surgery?
This depends on your choice of IOLs. Formerly, most patients would require reading glasses for up close vision, as the IOLs generally provided excellent distance vision. But as IOL technology has advanced, there are now multifocal and accommodating IOL options that can eliminate the need for glasses in just about all situations.
Will Cataract Surgery Improve My Night Vision?
Declining night vision is often the last straw for patients when deciding when to have cataract surgery. Once the cataract-clouded lens is removed, your night vision should improve dramatically.
What Happens if I Don’t Treat My Cataracts?
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Left untreated, cataracts will continual to worsen, making your vision more and more cloudy. Eventually driving will become dangerous, and your overall quality of life will be affected. There isn’t any reason to delay this surgery: it is covered by insurance plans and Medicare.
Can I Have Cataract Surgery if I Have had LASIK?
LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures alter the curvature of the cornea: they do not affect the lens where the cataract develops. You can have cataract surgery after earlier LASIK or PRK surgery.