How are Cataracts Treated?
If your vision is only slightly blurry, a change in your eyeglass prescription may help for a while. However, if you are still not able to see well enough to do the things you like or need to do after the change in eyeglass prescription, cataract surgery should be considered.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the standard process to remove a cataract was to make an incision in the eye, remove the lens, and then close the incision with stitches. Because of the stitches, it was standard to have the patient wear an eye patch to protect the eye to prevent injury or infection. After the eye was healed, the patient would then need to wear thick glasses to restore some vision because the lens was gone.
No Needle, No Stitch, No Patch Cataract Surgery
With the advances in today’s surgical technology and the wide range of intraocular lens (IOL) implants to replace your cloudy lens, there is no longer the need to wear thick glasses after surgery to compensate for the loss of the lens. Before surgery, the length of your eye will be measured precisely and the curve of your cornea will be measured using a technique called keratometry. These measurements help Dr. Donelson select the proper lens implant for your eye.
The most common procedure used for removing cataracts is called phacoemulsification. A small incision is made on the side of the cornea (the front part of your eye). Dr. Donelson inserts a tiny instrument through the incision that uses high-frequency ultrasound to break up the center of the cloudy lens and suction it out.
Most of the time, the cataract can be removed through an incision so small – about 2 to 3mm – that stitches and patches are not necessary. Your eye will heal on its own.
After the cloudy lens has been removed, Dr. Donelson will replace it with an intraocular lens implant, usually made with acrylic. This new lens allows light to pass through and focus on the retina. The IOL becomes a permanent part of your eye. In most cases, the IOL is inserted behind the iris, the colored part of your eye, and is called a posterior chamber lens. When the IOL is in place, Dr. Donelson closes the incision. Stitches are rarely needed. While cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures, not all surgeries are performed in the same manner. Dr. Donelson may recommend his laser assisted cataract surgery and the ORA technology method in Greenville, South Carolina, rather than phacoemulsification, for your procedure.
Expert Guidance During Cataract Surgery: ORA™ System
Prior to your cataract surgery, your doctor will determine what type and power of replacement Intraocular Lens (IOL) to implant in your eye. This choice is based on preoperative measurements of your eye and your vision goals.
However, the surgical process can alter these measurements slightly, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact power necessary to produce the very best vision results…until now.
At Donelson Eye we incorporate Optiwave Refractive Analysis (ORA) technology to provide real-time intraoperative measurements of your refractive error after the cloudy lens is removed – during surgery – so we can adjust the IOL power if necessary. The ORA system takes a Wavefront analysis of the eye after the cataract has been removed to calculate the proper IOL.
Benefits of the ORA System
With the ORA System, your cataract doctor can assess your eyes on-the-spot to:
- Measure the true refractive power of your eye
- Choose the IOL power that will provide a better visual outcome
- Completely tailor your procedure
- Reduce the need for follow-up surgeries
ORA technology is especially helpful for patients who have astigmatism. Patients are often amazed at how quickly their vision is restored.
Cataract Surgery Recovery
You will spend a short period of time resting in the outpatient recovery area before you are ready to go home. You will need to have someone drive you home.
Following your surgery, it is very important to put in the eye drops exactly as prescribed by Dr. Donelson to promote healing. You will also need to take care to protect your eye by wearing the eye shield whenever you sleep and by wearing special wraparound sunglasses in bright light. Be sure not to rub your eye.
The first few days of your recovery, you must avoid strenuous activity such as exercise, bending, and heavy lifting (including anything over 25 pounds). You will also need to avoid getting any water, dirt, or dust in your eye; this can lead to infection.
You may have some blurry vision a few days to weeks after surgery procedure. If you experience any pain or loss of vision, be sure to call our office.
Cataract Surgery Risks and Complications
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and complications associated with cataract surgery including:
- Bleeding inside the eye
- Increased pressure inside the eye (glaucoma)
- Swelling of the retina
- Swelling of the cornea
- Retinal detachment
- Loss of vision (partially or completely)
In some cases, the part of the lens covering that supports the IOL (called the capsule) can become cloudy several months or years after the first cataract was removed. This is called a “secondary cataract.” If this occurs and blurs your vision, Dr. Donelson can make an opening in the center of the cloudy capsule with a laser to allow light to pass through the lens properly again. This procedure is called a posterior capsulotomy and can be performed right in our office.
If you are having cataract surgery, be sure to tell Dr. Donelson if you are currently or have ever used alpha-blocker medications such as Flomax®, Uroxatral® or Cadura®. These medications affect the iris or pupil and can lead to complications during cataract surgery. If Dr. Donelson knows that you have taken these drugs, his surgical technique may be adapted to help reduce the risk of complications. You should also tell him about any other sedative medications you are taking.
Also, if you plan to have cataract surgery and you have had LASIK or other laser refractive surgery, provide Dr. Donelson with the vision correction prescription you had before LASIK, if possible. This information will help him in calculating your IOL power.
Most people who wear bifocals or reading glasses for near vision may still need to wear glasses after cataract surgery for reading, and, in some cases, even for distance. There are multiple types of IOLs to choose from that may reduce or eliminate the need for glasses after surgery. Dr. Donelson will discuss each of them and recommend the best lens for you prior to your surgery.
To learn more about cataract surgery in Greenville, South Carolina, contact us today.