Aging brings about many massive changes in our lives. Wrinkles, gray hair and creaky joints are the most common markers, but your eyes say a great deal about your age as well.
Cataracts are one of the most common eye conditions in the world, and the number one cause of preventable blindness.
They are so common, in fact, that almost every person over the age of 70 has some form of cataracts.
Inside of your eye, located behind the colored iris and pupil, is a crystalline lens that helps focus light onto the retina, lining the back of the eye. This lens needs to be flexible and completely clear for the best vision.
This natural lens is mostly made up of water and proteins. Aging, injury, or disease can cause these proteins to start breaking down and clump together. This can happen slowly over a period of many years, or suddenly (especially in the case of injury). As these proteins clump together, they cause the lens to become foggy or cloudy. This cloudy lens is called a “cataract”.
While the majority of patients with cataracts are in the senior population, congenital cataracts are seen in infants and children. Medical problems, such as diabetes or the long term use of steroids, can cause clouding of the lens as well. Radiation from cancer treatments, and trauma in our sports-active group can also lead to lens damage, and cataract development.
While the presence of a cataract is not harmful to your overall health, although they can indirectly affect your overall well being. For many, dealing with limited vision from cataract is the first step in getting back to living an independent life.
Cataracts may be unnoticeable until a doctor diagnoses them, especially those brought about by age. Many people notice their vision getting worse over time, but often assume that a new glasses or contact lens prescription will do the trick. While a new prescription may help in the early stages, mature cataracts cannot be corrected except through surgery.
You may have cataracts if you experience:
- Cloudy, blurry, or foggy vision
- Double vision
- Glare and haloes around lights, especially at night
How Are Cataracts Treated?
Regardless of what you may hear on the Internet or from a friend, cataracts are only treatable through cataract surgery. No amount of dieting or “natural living” can reverse them, and there are no eye-drops that can dissolve them. The thought of cataract surgery is frightening, but at Advanced Valley Eye Care, we’re proud of helping our patients, every step of the way.
Dr. Miller reassures his patients by consoling them that “we’ll walk you through this process”, and he does!
The actual experience is actually a lot easier than most people think. This isn’t your parents (or grandparents) cataract surgery! The technology has advanced a great deal in the last few decades. It no longer requires a hospital stay or lengthy recovery process, and most patients are seeing much better on the very first day!
The aim of cataract surgery is to remove the natural, but cloudy, lens (the “cataract”) and replace it with an artificial lens made to mimic the natural lens (an intraocular lens or IOL). The new IOL takes the place of your natural lens to provide you with clear, cataract-free vision, and some can even provide refractive benefits.
To start your cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon will numb your eyes with drops. You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax. Once the eye is prepared, the surgeon will use specialized micro-tools to break the cataract into pieces and remove them, using suction.
After all of the cataract is removed, the IOL is rolled and inserted into the eye. Your surgeon will carefully position the IOL to give you the best vision possible.
The wound is designed to seal, usually without a suture or “stitch”! Recent advances allow us to administer medicines at the time of surgery, so that most of the drops needed over the next few weeks, are no longer necessary! Ask us about “Drop Free” surgery!
Femtosecond Laser-assisted Cataract Surgery (FLACS)
For the last 30 years, the “gold-standard” method to remove the cloudy lens has been to make manual incisions in the eye, then “emulsify” (liquefy) the lens, so it can be removed through a small opening. The new IOL Implant is then placed into position.
Since 2014, Dr. Miller has been working with the very latest in technology, using advanced laser energy can be used to make the incisions, open the cataract, break up the cataract, and make other adjustments to treat astigmatism – – all with the incredible precision and control of a computer-controlled laser!
The LenSx laser system has added an entire new dimension to what we can offer to our patients, and to what they can expect from their cataract surgery.
Ask us about “Premium Refractive Cataract Surgery”!
Premium IOL Implants
As mentioned above, some IOL implants can provide amazing refractive benefits. Those with refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism can choose a premium IOL to fix two problems at once: cataracts and life-long vision problems requiring glasses!
At Advanced Valley Eye Associates, Dr. Miller offers the following premium IOLs:
Alcon Acrysof® IQ Toric Aspheric IOL: This IOL was made for patients with cataracts and corneal astigmatism. The Acrysof® IQ Toric IOL provides cataract patients with outstanding astigmatic correction, predictable outcomes and quality vision at all distances.
ReSTOR® IOL: This IOL belongs to a group of IOLs referred to as “multifocal”. A multifocal lens is designed with a surface that rises in concentric rings, allowing for an even distribution of light. This allows for clear vision at both near and far distances. The ReSTOR® IOL has proven extremely effective in allowing patients to rely less on glasses after cataract surgery.
Tecnis Multifocal IOL: Another multifocal IOL, this lens is a relatively “near dominant” IOL, meaning it provides excellent near vision (even in dim lighting), but also also maintains good distance vision.
Crystalens® IOL: This lens, created by Bausch & Lomb, is one of few IOLs that attempts to mimic the natural lens’ ability to flex and accommodate focus on near objects without compromising distance vision. Dr. Miller has found that the near function with this lens is not as dependable as with the multifocal Premium IOL’s discussed above.
If you have been diagnosed with, or simply suspect that you might have cataracts, and you’re wondering what the next step is, contact us. Advanced Valley Eye Associates is dedicated to offer the most advanced cataract services available. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with our cataract coordinator!