Last month we discussed, “What is a cataract?” Now we need to learn, “What do I (yes, me) do, about cataracts?”
Cataract surgery has evolved by “leaps and bounds” as folks like to say. We have gone from a week’s stay in the hospital with sand bags beside our head to in and out of a surgical facility in two hours. The technique for removing the cataract (cloudy, natural lens) has become much simpler for the patient, with the exception that they now have choices to make.
The hardest part of having cataract surgery (if you have an otherwise healthy eye) is making the choice of the type of procedure and the type of lens replacement. Below are some of the options.
PROCEDURE: There are two main types of procedures utilized in performing cataract surgery. One is the standard “no stitch” surgery, in which the surgeon makes an incision with a scalpel, or blade as it is often referred to. The other procedure utilizes a laser called Femtosecond Laser.
TYPE OF INTRAOCULAR LENS: There are many types of artificial lenses used to replace your natural lens. These include Monovision lens which corrects for distance vision, Toric lens which corrects for distance vision and corrects astigmatism, and the Multifocal lens which gives vision distance, intermediate, and near.
We cannot include everything someone needs to know in this article, but we would like to give you a short overview. First of all, let’s talk about the procedures.
No Stitch or “Standard” Procedure
The incision into the eye for the operation is usually less than 1/8th of an inch, not much more than a puncture wound. Therefore, the incision is so small that it is actually self-sealing and usually does not require any stitches to close. Thus the term, “no-needle, no-stitch.” In fact, right after the surgery, the eye is rarely even red, and patients can resume their normal activities and lifestyle the same day as their surgery.
Laser-assisted cataract surgery has been used to remove cataracts for the past decade. This procedure provides the same outcome as traditional cataract surgery but uses a different method. It utilizes a femtosecond laser to break up cataracts. Your surgeon will use special software to create a surgical plan with a 3-D image of the eye called OCT (optical coherence tomography). The plan includes the location, depth, and length of the cataract in all planes. Using the unique map of your eye and the settings created in the software, the femtosecond laser will create the incisions and assist in the cataract removal. Light energy from the laser causes disruption of tissue borders with minimal damage to nearby tissue. The old lens is removed, and then, the new lens is inserted. Recovery time is very similar to traditional cataract surgery, and most patients experience clearer vision and can resume normal activities fairly rapidly.
As there are so many choices for the lens replacement, we can only provide the very basic of choices. Replacement lenses are selected to fit each person’s unique needs for their lifestyle and the overall health of their eyes.