Cataracts will affect most of us during our lifetime. This common condition occurs when there are age-related changes to the proteins that are naturally found in the lens of the eye. The proteins are usually spread fairly evenly across the eye, enabling us to see clearly. However, as we get older, they thicken and clump together in a cloudy patch. It is this cloudy patch that is known as a cataract. Cataracts are progressive meaning that they get larger over time, obscuring your vision. Initially, patients with cataracts liken their sight to looking through frosted glass. However, if the cataracts progress, eventually they can lead to blindness.
Most people develop cataracts in both eyes, but the rate at which each cataract grows can vary, meaning that your vision can be better in one eye than the other. Unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do to prevent cataracts, although there are some factors that are believed to increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:
Having high blood pressure
Suffering from diabetes
Having had a previous eye injury or eye surgery
Excessive exposure to sunlight
The good news is that your sight can be restored if you choose to undergo cataract surgery. This involves removing the natural, clouded lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial version that cannot develop cataracts. Cataract surgery is very common and straightforward, with more than 3 million being performed in the U.S. alone every year. Advances in the management and treatment of ocular diseases mean that there are now two types of cataract surgery – conventional and laser-assisted. Here is what you need to know about both.
Conventional cataract surgery is performed by hand using manual instruments. Once your eye is properly anesthetized, your eye doctor will make an incision into the surface of the eye through which a special instrument is placed. This instrument uses sound waves to break apart the lens so that it can be removed through the incision using gentle suction. Once all of the parts of the broken lens have been removed, your chosen replacement lens (intraocular lens or IOL for short) will be inserted through the incision and positioned behind the iris and pupil, where your natural lens was before. The incision is then left to heal naturally.
Laser technology is transforming the way in which many different procedures are performed, including cataract surgery. In laser-assisted cataract surgery, the incision that is made to remove and replace the cataract is made using a femtosecond laser. This is the same type of laser that is used in laser vision correct surgeries. There are several benefits to choosing laser technology for this part of the procedure including
Greater accuracy and precision
Reduced risk of human error
Reduced risk of complications
Guaranteed sterility of the incision
The incision can be made faster
The incision generally heals more quickly following laser creation
Laser-assisted cataract surgery is planned using topography. This is where a map of the surface of your eye and lens is created using special imaging equipment, and this enables our team to plan for the exact depth, size, and location of the incision being made for the lens exchange.
If you would like more information about either of the treatment options for cataracts, our knowledgeable and professional staff would be happy to help. Contact Quality Eye Care in Jacksonville or Gainesville, Florida offices today.