A cataract is the lens of the eye losing its clarity, typically with age, and possibly due to some medications or less commonly with inflammation inside the eye. Most people begin to develop a cataract in their late 50’s to early 60’s, but may not have vision changes for a number of years. Cataracts tend to gradually worsen over time as the lens becomes progressively more yellow and one may begin to notice a general dimming of vision, glare or haloes around headlights and streetlights when driving, difficulty reading or seeing the television, or engaging in the visual aspects of their work or hobbies.
When a cataract significantly inhibits one’s ability to function adequately with their vision, and spectacles and contact lenses do not afford further improvement, the patient and ophthalmologist may discuss the option of proceeding with cataract surgery. The risks, benefits, and alternatives of surgery are discussed with the patient so they may make an informed decision. Particular details specific to each patient are also discussed, as well as the intended post-operative correction in any type of spectacles, and different lens implant options to help the patient in achieving their visual and functional goals as best possible.
Cataract surgery requires pre-operative assessment by the patient’s primary care physician. Surgery is typically performed in the operating room with local or topical anesthesia and mild sedation. The procedure involves making small incisions at the edge of the cornea, removing the cataract through a probe (called a phacoemulsification unit), and then implanting a new acrylic lens inside the eye. Usually no sutures are required. The patient has a short post-op stay in the recovery room and is released to home with a family member or friend. The patient uses eye drops to prevent infection and treat post-operative swelling, and maintains follow-up appointments with the surgeon during the course of the ensuing month. It is estimated that over 3.5 million cataract surgeries will be performed this year in the United States, and over 20 million worldwide. Cataract surgery has a very high success rate and allows many patients to continue to work and play successfully during their later years, greatly improving the quality of their professional and personal lives.
Slit lamp view of a nuclear sclerotic cataract
Intraoperative photo of cataract removal
I’m writing to you because I want you to know how very grateful I am to you for doing cataract surgery on my eyes. I can see tremendously better! The VA doctors accomplished a complete physical exam on me after I was discharged from active duty. The ophthalmologist examined my eyes and said “Your cataract surgery is just beautiful”.
Well, sir, I can see the beauty of God’s world in much more colorful and clearer detail—because of your healing touch. I can read. I am a much safer driver. I can tie fishing knots again—and I can tell the difference between a pheasant and other birds at 100 yards. Your professionalism and God’s healing touch in your hands has highly improved my life and ability to serve others. My deepest gratitude.
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