A cataract is a clouding of the normally crystal clear lens inside your eye. It is not a film that can be "peeled" of the surface of the eye. Looking through a cataract is like looking through dirty windows. There are no drops, nutritional supplements or medical treatments for this clouding. An intra-ocular surgical procedure is the curative option. Cataract removal is the most common surgery billed to Medicare. Although commonly performed, and highly successful, it is a surgical procedure with some, although minimal risk. Know that this is only a brief summary and the best way to determine if you have cataracts and what your personal options are, will best be satisfied by making an appointment for examination and consultation with Dr. Woolf.
You can be born with cataracts, but generally they represent a consequence of the normal aging process. We frequently see a family history of cataracts. If you live long enough, you will develop a cataract. Cataracts can occur following an eye injury or from the use of some medications. They can be accelerated by retinal detachment, vitreous or glaucoma surgery. They are more common in smokers. Symptoms of age related cataracts develop gradually over months or years. The symptoms of a cataract include:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you could have a cataract.
Despite what your friends have told you, their cataract was not removed using a laser beam. The procedure is performed at an outpatient surgical facility. An anesthesiologist or anesthetist is present to give mild IV sedation and topical and local anesthesia. In the operating room, a small 3.0 millimeter incision in made in the eye. Through this opening, a fine ultrasonic probe is inserted which fragments the lens into fine pieces, which are then aspirated from the eye. This process is called phacoemulsification. Once the hazy lens has been removed, it is replaced with an intra-ocular lens (IOL).
There are several categories of intra-ocular lenses currently in use and others in development. Lenses in all categories filter ultra-violet light and are made with acrylic or silicone.