To many patients, hearing that they have cataracts can be surprising. But it really shouldn’t be. In most cases, developing a cataract is as normal as developing gray hairs, a natural part of the aging process. A cataract means that the natural lens inside the eye has become cloudy. As a result, light has difficulty focusing onto the retina and the overall vision will decrease. It usually doesn’t happen all at once, but at some point it becomes noticeable.
We only recommend surgery when symptoms interfere with normal activities such as driving at night or reading smaller print. When indicated, cataract surgery is performed in the operating room, normally under light sedation with local anesthesia. The cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a clear new one. It is outpatient surgery where you go home shortly afterward. Typically, no stitches are required.
Cataract surgery is a wonderful time to address other imperfections in the visual system such as near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism. With each patient, a thoughtful plan is formulated based on safety and goals for vision. Sometimes, this involves laser-assisted surgery for improved precision and consistency. Sometimes, a more traditional technique is better. The goal is always to maximize each patient’s visual potential.
Ophthalmology has always been at the forefront of technology in medicine. Cataract surgery is no exception, and it’s an exciting time to help patients with these visual challenges. Better technology means surgery is more predictable and safer than ever before. Cataracts are a part of life, yet thankfully we have an excellent surgical option when they arrive.
This story was written by Bradley L. Shoss, M.D. For more information contact Dr. Shoss at Florida Eye Clinic, 2460 E. Highway 50, Clermont, FL 34711, 352-708-7080.