Overcome Clouded Vision with our Cataracts Treatment
A cataract is a gradual clouding of the crystalline lens (the part of the eye that works with the cornea to refract light focused on the retina). If you are suffering with cataracts, our practice provides the advanced care needed to help you achieve clear, dependable vision once again. Our ultra-precise surgical techniques, along with biocompatible technology like intraocular lenses (IOLs), have helped patients throughout the Austin area to overcome this common degenerative disease. Contact us today to learn more.
After the age of 40, your eyes can begin to experience significant changes. Aging can cause the proteins in your eye to clump together, clouding a portion of the lens. This clouding prohibits light from passing through to the retina. Furthermore, the lens of the eye generally becomes less flexible as we age, which can lead to difficulty when focusing on nearby objects. The lens may also change from transparent to a yellowish or brownish tint. This can make it difficult to discern colors and also negatively affect the sharpness of your vision.
Some patients are born with cataracts or develop them as children. Congenital cataracts can occur in a newborn when his or her mother develops an infection during pregnancy, such as measles or chicken pox. Genetics or an injury to the eye in childhood can also lead to their development.
There are a number of medical conditions that can contribute to the development of cataracts, with diabetics being at a particularly high risk. Patients with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop this condition than those who are not diabetic. Diabetes can also cause patients to develop cataracts at a younger age, and the condition may progress more rapidly.
Certain lifestyle habits may increase your risk of developing cataracts, including:
- Smoking: Research has shown that smokers are more likely to develop cataracts at an earlier age than non-smokers.
- Alcohol consumption: Consuming alcoholic beverages may slightly increase the risk of developing cataracts, and this risk expands with more excessive drinking.
- Long-term exposure to direct sunlight: Ultraviolet (UV) light can cause cataracts to develop over time, so it is important to wear sunglasses and take other preventive measures.
- Steroid medications: Research has linked excessive steroid use to the development of cataracts.
- Trauma: In some patients, cataracts develop as a result of an injury to the eye.
Your doctor will review the lifestyle factors that can affect cataract development to determine if you may be at a high risk.
In some cases, a “secondary cataract” will develop after undergoing cataract surgery. This is an opacity of the capsule holding the intraocular lens (IOL) inserted during cataract surgery. Secondary cataracts do not require a trip to the operating room as they can be effectively treated with a convenient in-office laser procedure.
Understanding the symptoms of this disease can help you and your Ophthalmologist diagnose it in its early stages. The following conditions can be indicators that you suffer from or are developing cataracts:
- Worsened night vision
- Hypersensitivity to light
- Discoloration of vision, particularly a brown or yellow hue
- Light abnormalities such as starbursts, halos, or glare
- Constantly changing glasses or contact prescriptions
- Diplopia (double vision)
- Cloudy, blurry, or hazy eyesight
Most patients who suffer from cataracts are over 60 years old. You are also at a higher risk of developing cataracts if you:
- Suffer from uncontrolled diabetes
- Take steroid medications
- Have high blood pressure
- Drink an excessive amount of alcohol
- Have a genetic predisposition to this condition
- Do not adequately protect your eyes from the sun
- Have been exposed to radiation, as with cancer treatment
- Have suffered an eye injury
- Previously underwent eye surgery for a different ocular condition
- Smoke cigarettes
Cataract symptoms can be subtle, so it is important to undergo regular eye exams. While maintaining proper preventive eye care is important at every age, it is especially important for patients over the age of 60, since they are more likely to develop cataracts and other ocular conditions.
If a mild cataract has formed in one or both of your eyes, we will typically recommend that you change your glasses or contact prescription and continue to monitor your vision. Eventually, your cataracts may progress to a point that you require surgery. As a one-stop shop for cataract care, we offer both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery to safely and effectively remove the lens. For lens replacement, we provide monofocal intraocular lenses (IOLs), toric IOLs for astigmatism, and multifocal IOLs for enhanced eyesight at any distance.
Early Stages of Cataracts
Early symptoms of cataracts often include the development of glares and halos, or difficulty seeing at night. The initial symptoms are usually so slight and develop so slowly that people are not even aware of these changes. In fact, cataracts patients may seek treatment only after family members or close friends have pointed out that the patient seems to be having problems seeing. In some cases, patients may develop what is called “second sight.” This means your near vision actually improves before your eyesight starts to decline overall. During the early stages, many patients can offset vision loss with changes to their prescription eyewear.
As a cataract progresses, it causes more severe changes to your eyesight. Blurred vision, poor night vision, difficulty detecting colors, and light sensitivity will become more pronounced. The rate at which your cataracts develop will depend on several factors, including age, the use of certain medications, and smoking tobacco. Without treatment, patients will lose visual acuity to the point that they may have difficulty completing daily tasks and distinguishing details, such as facial features.
Doctors will typically recommend surgical treatment when your condition has started to affect your quality of life. If it becomes difficult to complete certain daily tasks, or you can no longer see faces or objects clearly, surgical intervention may be appropriate. Patients who put themselves or others at risk of injury when completing tasks that require good vision may be recommended for surgery. For example, patients who frequently drive at night should consider surgery sooner, since halos and glare can pose a serious risk for accidents.
Your eye doctor may also recommend the operation if you score poorly on one or more of your vision tests. Exams that measure your visual acuity, glare, contrast sensitivity, and ability to detect colors can shape the decision to undergo cataract surgery. Ultimately, the decision is entirely the patient’s. Your doctor is there to help you decide when surgical intervention would be most beneficial to your health and lifestyle, not to pressure you into treatment before you are ready.
Cataract surgery is performed at a convenient, easily accessible outpatient center nearby. Before the surgery begins, we will apply a topical anesthetic to the eye. This keeps our patients comfortable throughout surgery. At Broberg Eye Care, we perform cataract surgery using ultrasonic energy to break up the cataracts. We insert a small probe, roughly the size of a needle, through a tiny incision in the cornea. This probe emits ultrasonic waves that emulsify the cataracts. With the cataracts broken up into small pieces, they can be removed from the eye using a gentle suction device.
With the cataract tissue removed, an intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted. These lenses replace the crystalline lens, becoming a permanent part of the eye. These lenses come in several different varieties, and can correct vision impairment such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Our doctors can discuss which type of intraocular lens is right for you.
Directly after cataract surgery, you will need to have someone drive you home. Most patients feel tired or groggy after surgery, so taking a nap is recommended. For the first day and night, you will need to wear a protective shield over your eyes.
For the first 24 hours, your eyes may feel irritated, your vision may be slightly blurry, and you may see glare or halos. During this time, you should rest and relax, refraining from reading or watching television. You can typically resume these activities the next day. You may experience some light sensitivity or irritation for about one week after surgery, but this should diminish quickly.
Patients should use their drops as prescribed in the days following cataract surgery. We will see you for regular appointments during your recovery to monitor your progress and ensure you are healing well. Typically, patients are completely recovered within one month, although it may take longer for your eye to adapt to the IOL.
You can help your eyes heal by:
- Attending your regular recovery appointments
- Avoiding rubbing or scratching your eyes, even if they itch
- Refraining from heavy lifting or water sports
- Not bending over, as this can put pressure on your lens
- Staying away from sand, dirt, or dust
- Cleaning your face and not using makeup or skin creams around your eyes
- Taking antibiotics as directed
Most cataract surgery patients never experience any complications, recovering fully and enjoying their improved vision within approximately a month. However, all surgical procedures have risks. For cataract surgery, these include:
Secondary Cataracts. Technically called “posterior capsular opacity,” this occurs when epithelial cells grow around the capsule holding the intraocular lens (IOL) inserted during surgery. If affecting vision, this condition can be corrected with an-office laser procedure.
Infection. About 0.1 percent of cataract surgery patients suffer from endophthalmitis, in which bacteria attack the eye, interfering with vision and causing swelling, redness, discharge, and discomfort. If you believe you have an infection after cataract surgery, contact our office immediately, as this condition may permanently affect your eye.
Retinal Damage. The retina is the tissue at the back of the eye that sends nerve impulses to the brain so you can see. In rare cases, cataract surgery can cause the retina to tear or even become detached from the ocular wall. This condition should be treated immediately because damage to your retina could result in vision loss.
While all of the above complications are extremely rare, working with a respected, experienced surgeon can further reduce your risks.
The cataract surgery process usually takes less than 15 minutes to complete and is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning you can return home the same day. The average success rate for this procedure is typically around 98 percent, with a low incidence of side effects. Making exact incisions with a laser rather than a blade can further reduce your healing time and most patients are fully recovered within one month, although your vision may continue to improve for several months after surgery. Most patients experience only minimal side effects that subside within a few days. These can include:
- Irritation as your eye heals from surgery and tissue regenerates
- Light sensitivity, including the appearance of glare or halos
- Blurry vision
- General discomfort, for which your doctor may prescribe painkillers
- Disorientation, nausea, or grogginess from sedation or anesthesia
- Dry eye is the most common side effect of cataract surgery; it can be managed with medicated eye drops, lifestyle changes, and other treatments
Your Ophthalmologist can help you prepare for and treat any side effects that may arise after cataract surgery. Working with one of our reputable, seasoned surgeons can minimize your risks and save you expense, time, and discomfort in the long-term.
It may take up to a year for your eye to completely adapt to the IOL as it integrates with your ocular tissue. Multifocal IOLs in particular may cause light sensitivity or impaired night vision as your eye adjusts to the synthetic lens. In rare cases (less than two percent of patients), the IOL may shift or be poorly positioned, in which case your surgeon will need to correct or replace it as soon as possible.
The costs of cataract surgery can fluctuate considerably. Cost factors can include:
- The Anesthesia Used. While this surgery usually requires just local anesthesia, you may choose to undergo general anesthesia, oral sedation, or intravenous sedation, which will come at an additional cost.
- The Type of IOL. A simple monofocal IOL will be less expensive than more advanced lenses like toric or multifocal IOLs. You will need to weigh the benefits of these lenses against their expense. We provide a full spectrum of IOLs so you can decide which type will suit your needs, budget, and desired results.
- Your Insurance. Your insurance provider may cover all or a portion of your surgery. However, medical insurance companies typically will not cover the full cost of premium IOLs.
- The Expertise of Your Surgeon. Our ophthalmologists frequently perform this procedure using some of the latest laser surgery techniques. Using a reputable surgeon with extensive experience can save you money, time, and discomfort in the long-term. At Broberg Eye Care, we are a one-stop shop for cataracts; we assist patients with every step of the cataract surgery process, from detecting symptoms to recovery.
Ready to see clearly?
We can help you decide if Laser Corrective Surgery is right for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.