If you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, you are not alone. In fact, cataracts are very common. Sometime after age 60, most people will be told they have a cataract. A cataract, which is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, typically develops slowly over time. But eventually, it may interfere with everyday life, and, when this happens, your eye doctor may recommend surgery.
Here are some answers to common questions about cataract surgery:
1. What is an intraocular lens?
Normally, the lens of the eye is transparent, but cataracts cause the lens to become cloudy or hazy. Cataract surgery entails removing the clouded natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens or IOL. Today’s IOLs are made of flexible materials like silicone or acrylic and contain special materials to help protect the eye from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. There are many different types of IOLs that correct vision at different distances.
2. Do cataracts grow back?
Fortunately, the answer to this one is “no.” Artificial lenses do not grow cataracts. There is a condition, however, called posterior capsular opacification, which is commonly called a “second cataract,” which explains why this is such a common question.
A small sac, or “capsule” holds the eye’s natural lens in place. During surgery, the new artificial IOL is placed inside this capsule. Sometimes, the back side of the capsule can become cloudy or “opacified,” making it appear that a cataract has grown back. Fortunately, this condition is not very common and is easily treatable with a simple procedure that is usually performed in the doctor’s office.
3. Will my eyeglass prescription change after cataract surgery?
Many patients want to know if they will still need glasses after cataract surgery, and, if so, if their prescription will change. The answer to this question is “it depends.” It depends on your pre-surgery vision and on which type of IOL you choose. There are many different types of IOLs. Some premium IOLs can reduce the need for glasses post-surgery. The IC-8 lens is a newer technology that is ideal for individuals who want clear vision across a range of distances from near to far.
4. Can I have cataract surgery if I’ve had LASIK surgery?
Be sure to provide your cataract surgeon with complete records of your vision prior to LASIK surgery, which will help him or her select the correctly powered IOL for your unique situation. While you can still have cataract surgery if you don’t have access to these records, having them is very helpful for your cataract surgeon.
5. What happens if I don’t have cataract surgery?
Eventually, most cataracts will grow large enough to impair vision and interfere with everyday activities like reading or watching television. Surgery is the only way to restore vision loss due to a lens clouded by a cataract. Without cataract surgery, it may become more difficult (or impossible) to drive at night. It is even possible for a cataract to impair vision completely. In fact, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Fortunately, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries performed today.
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