What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a window that is frosted.

What causes a cataract?
Most cataracts are age-related, but can be congenital (present at birth or shortly after), or may be associated with an injury, systemic diseases (such as diabetes), or some medications (such as steroids). Other risk factors include family history, smoking, and exposure to ultra-violet (UV) light.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?
  • painless blurry or fuzzy vision
  • glare or light sensitivity
  • frequent eyeglass prescription changes
  • fading or yellowing of colors
  • difficulty in driving (especially at night), doing near tasks, seeing TV or computer
How are cataracts treated?
A thorough eye examination can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision or other symptoms.

The mere presence of a cataract does not indicate the need for surgery. Some cataracts may be slow growing, and for a period of time, stronger glasses can correct vision. Some cataracts develop more rapidly than others and we can monitor changes in vision and cataracts with periodic eye examinations. There are no medications or dietary supplements proven to cure cataracts. Protection from excessive sunlight may help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Sunglasses that screen out UV light rays or regular eyeglasses with a clear, anti-UV coating offer this protection.

Once the cataract begins to interfere with daily activities, cataract surgery should be considered. Cataract surgery is successful in improving vision in over 95% of the cases. If other conditions that cause decreased vision are also present, we can help determine how much improvement in vision might be likely with removal of the cataract. Dr. Blair performs a type of cataract surgery called phaco surgery. This surgery is the no-stitch/one-stitch technique and requires local anesthesia with IV sedation. In phaco surgery, a tiny incision (usually 2.75 to3.0 mm) is made in the cornea and an ultrasonic probe is inserted into the eye to break up the cataract into small pieces which are then liquefied and removed from the eye. A common misconception is that cataracts are removed using laser; this is not true - an incision is required.

Click here for a quick animation on cataract removal.
Click here for a quick animation on insertion of a new artificial lens.

After the cloudy lens is removed, a new artificial lens is implanted in the eye. Flexible intraocular lenses (IOLs) can be folded and inserted through the original surgical incision. Once positioned in the eye, the IOL unfolds to its proper shape. Without this IOL, high prescription glasses or contact lenses would be necessary to be able to see.

Because the optics of each eye is different, we have to take measurements to calculate the power of the IOL for your eye. At Pleasant Valley Ophthalmology, we use the Zeiss IOL Master , a high-precision instrument that has been proven to be five times more accurate than traditional technologies (such as ultrasound) in determining the measurements needed in IOL calculations .

ReStor® and ReZoom Lenses
Traditionally, the intraocular lens implants(IOL) were only able to correct vision for either distance or near but not both. Glasses would be required to correct whatever was not corrected by the IOL (for example, if the IOL corrected distance vision, then glasses would be needed 100% of the time for near vision). NOW, the FDA-approved ReStor® and ReZoom multi-focal lenses represent a breakthrough in intraocular lens technology for most people with cataracts that restores the ability to see up close and in the distance without depending on bifocals and reading glasses.

In the ReStor® IOL, a series of 12 gradual "step heights" of 0.2-1.3 microns each (thinner than a human hair or smaller than a red blood cell) in the center of the IOL create seamless focusing ability, while the peripheral area helps to enhance distance vision. The ReStor® FDA clinical study results after one year indicate that 99 out of 100 patients were able to drive without glasses and 97 out of 100 were able to read newspapers and magazines without glasses. Furthermore, 80 out of 100 patients do not depend on glasses at all or only wear them occasionally. Nearly 94% said that they would have the lens again. Some patients may require correction for computer work.

The ReZoom lens features five spherical segments with smooth transitions in between so the eyes focus seamlessly from one distance to the next. The center of the lens is optimized for bright light and distance vision, while the fourth zone supports near-vision in a variety of light conditions, and the outermost zone accommodates for low-light distance vision (such as driving at night). The ReZoom lens is also specially designed to reduce internal reflections and minimize glare. In the cases studied, 92% of those who received this lens implant "never" or only "occasionally" needed to wear glasses. Most people found that they need glasses to read small type or drive at night, but can conduct many of their day's activities without depending on glasses.

For both lenses, patients may see well right away or there may be an adjustment period when your brain is learning to "see" up close and at a distance with the new lens. The adjustment period is usually complete within a few weeks. Clinical data suggests that results are best when both eyes have multi-focal lenses implanted. Some patients may have mild halos around lights which usually diminish over time. Less than 5% of patients had halos or glare that was classified as severe.

For more information on the ReStor® lens, click on www.acrysofrestor.com. For more information on the ReZoom lens, click on www.visioninfocus.com.

What is a secondary cataract?
Sometimes following cataract surgery, the clear membrane supporting the IOL will become clouded. This condition is treated by using a YAG laser to make a small window in the cloudy membrane, allowing clear vision through the opening. This laser treatment is a painless procedure done right in the office and takes only a few minutes to perform.

Pleasant Valley Ophthalmology    11825 Hinson Road, Suite 103    Little Rock, AR 72212-3404
Office  501-223-3937    Fax  501-223-8656    disclaimer

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