What are cataracts?
Cataracts are the natural lens inside the eye that has become cloudy over time. Age and UV exposure over time are the most common cause of cataracts.
What symptoms are caused by cataracts?
Cataracts can cause difficulty seeing in low light conditions, decreased contrast and color sensitivity, increased glare and halos making it difficult to drive at night, and overall blurry vision at both distance and near.
How are cataracts treated?
Once your symptoms cannot be resolved with glasses, your eye care specialist will let you know when it might be time to consider cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is performed in the operating room under light sedation. The cataract is broken up using ultrasonic waves and removed via microscopic incisions. Once the cataract is removed, a new artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is placed inside the eye.
What is FLACS?
Femtosecond laser assisted cataract surgery (FLACS) utilizes a laser to aid in breaking up the cataract, which results in a quicker healing time. This laser also assists in centering the artifical lens. FLACS is recommended with dense cataracts, in patients with certain eye diseases that may result in prolonged recovery time, and with premium artificial lenses.
What are IOLs?
When the cataract is removed, a new artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is put in its place. While the goal of cataract surgery is not to remove the need for glasses, it is sometimes possible to correct refractive error in order to lessen your dependence on glasses.
What are the different IOL types?
While the natural lens has the ability to change shape in order to see both far and near, IOLs cannot change shape. For this reason, glasses may still be required after cataract surgery
- Monofocal lenses have one focal point and is usually set to minimize your glasses prescription at distance. Because these lenses have just one focal point, glasses are usually required for intermediate (computer, dashboard) and near vision (cell phone, reading a book) following cataract surgery. This lens is covered by insurance. *If you have astigmatism, this lens does not correct for this and glasses will be required at all distances.
- Toric monofocal lenses correct for astigmatism and can reduce the need for glasses at one focal point. Glasses are still required to see intermediate and near objects.
- Multifocal lenses use a series of rings to split the light coming into the eye to allow for less dependence on glasses for both distance and near objects. Because of the splitting of light, glasses may still be required in low lighting conditions. When the eye is dilated at nighttime, the rings can cause some glare and halos around lights which may be bothersome to some people. This lens can also correct for astigmatism. This lens is not covered by insurance.
- Extended depth of focus lenses allow for correction of distance and intermediate vision (computer, dashboard). These lenses have less glare and halos than multifocal lenses but do not have as much depth of focus. For this reason, reading glasses are usually still required. This lens can also correct for astigmatism. This lens is not covered by insurance.
While some of the above lenses can reduce the need for glasses, becoming completely independent on glasses is never guaranteed. If you have other ocular diseases, this may limit your lens options.
Can Cataracts Come Back After Surgery?
It is common for scar tissue to develop behind the lens after cataract surgery. This is called a posterior capsule opacification (PCO) or secondary cataract. If this happens, it may seem as though your cataract is returning. This may happen months to years after a successful cataract surgery. PCO can be treated with a quick and painless laser procedure.