Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss. A cataract is a cloudiness in the natural lens of the eye that decreases the vision.
There are three main types of cataracts.
- Nuclear Cataract: This is the most common type of cataract. It grows from the inside of the lens and works it’s way out and gets cloudier over time. Often this cataract will remain in a mild to moderate stage for years, and then suddenly within weeks to months get a lot worse. One of the signs that this cataract is about to get worse is when you have rapid change in your glasses prescription.
- Cortical Cataract: This type of cataract starts on the outside of the lens and works it’s way toward the center. It does not affect vision until it is more advanced.
- Posterior Subcapsular Cataract: This cataract is a cloudiness that occurs on the posterior capsule of the lens. It affects the vision more than the other types of cataracts and often grows rapidly. Trauma and diabetes are common causes of this type of cataract.
There are three main criteria for determining if a cataract is ready for removal:
- It has to bother you enough. Your vision has to decrease enough to the point where it is difficult to drive, see the TV, use the computer, or read, and new glasses don’t help.
- Your vision has to be bad enough during an eye exam. Usually we like either the vision to be worse than 20/30 or worse than 20/50 with glare, as measured in the exam room.
- It has to look bad enough to the doctor during an eye exam. If the vision is decreased significantly but the cataract doesn’t look bad enough, then there is likely another cause for the decreased vision. In this case, cataract surgery is not likely to improve the vision and some other intervention is necessary.
The process of cataract surgery is as follows:
- We determine at our office if the cataract meets the criteria above.
- We set you up with an appointment with a cataract surgeon that we trust. Some surgeons are more skilled than others at cataract surgery. We are excited to work with the MOST skilled and caring surgeons in the east valley.
- You see the cataract surgeon and they confirm our findings, set a date for surgery on the worst eye, and discuss implant options. The standard implants give you distance vision in both eyes and you then will need reading glasses for computer or near. Premium lenses enable you to see distance and computer and limit how much you would need readers. These premium lenses require some out-of-pocket cost.
- You return to the surgeon’s office prior to surgery for measurements that determine the power of the implants.
- You have surgery at a separate surgery center. You would bring a driver and you are there for a few hours. You leave with a patch on your eye.
- You sleep with a shield on your eye for a week. You use antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops for a week and then taper off over a few weeks.
- You follow-up one day after surgery and one week after surgery. The process is repeated for the other eye, if it needs surgery as well.
- You follow-up one month after surgery with us and we determine any vision needs and ongoing eye health needs.
Occasionally, months to years following surgery, scar tissue will form on the back of the implants. This will cause you to feel like there is a film over your vision. This film is easily fixed with laser that clears the scar tissue away with minimal risk.
Since there are many conditions that can lead to cataracts, it is really important to visit us regularly. It is best to catch cataracts early, and we can do that with routine examinations.
We like to be the ones to set you up with the surgeon for several reasons:
- We can make sure you fit the criteria so that you don’t waste your time.
- We can manage any visual needs until your cataracts are ready.
- We can set you up with the best surgeon.
- We can get you in to see the cataract surgeon a lot sooner than you can get in on your own.
- The surgeon becomes accountable not only to you but to us.
- We can co-manage your surgery with the cataract surgeon.
- We can ensure continuity of eye care.