Seeing life again without the haze

Seeing life again without the haze

Each year, more than 3 million cataract surgeries are done in the United States and more than 20 million are done worldwide. It is by far the most common surgery performed in the United States.

I receive a lot of questions from both patients with cataracts and their family members about the condition itself and the treatment options available. Here are some of the most common questions I hear.

1. What is cataract?

In simple terms, I tell my patients that our eye functions like a camera. Like the camera has a lens, the human eye has a lens. When we are young, this lens is crystal clear but as we age, the lens becomes dirty or hazy.

This “dirty” lens is medically known as cataract. The lens gets dirty because the lens proteins lose their normal structure and function. Development of cataract is a normal aging process happening inside the eye, like the greying of hair or wrinkling on our skin. If we live long enough, eventually all of us will get a cataract.

2. What are the symptoms of cataract?

The cataractous lens blocks the light entering our eyes. As a result, patients with cataract complain of blurred vision. They notice increasing difficulty with driving (especially night driving), glare, difficulty reading, watching TV or any other activity requiring visual attention. Symptoms usually appear slowly over several months.

3. What are the treatment options?

The only definitive treatment for cataracts is surgery. But, the good news is that the success rate of cataract surgeries is incredibly great. Patients universally notice an improvement in their vision and quality of life as early as day one post-surgery.

With all the latest technology that is available to our patients at Marshall Health, we can help improve our patients’ vision in very little time with minimal to no discomfort.

4. What does the surgery involve?

The surgery is an outpatient procedure. Patients get to go home the same day following the procedure.

The surgery involves replacing the dirty cataractous lens with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens will last the rest of your lifetime and will not require replacement.

Our patients have access to the latest lenses available. The incision made in cataract surgery is less than 2.5mm and can be closed without a suture in most patients. This aids in a quick recovery after the surgery. Patients then use antibiotic and steroid drops for about 4-5 weeks following their surgery.

5. What are the risks of the surgery?

As I mentioned before, cataract surgery is very safe and successful. The risks or complications associated with cataract surgery involve infection or the occasional need for more than one surgery to remove the cataract. However, these risks and complications are exceedingly rare. You can read more about the surgery itself in Dr. Verma’s blog, Anxiety & Cataract Surgery: Alleviating Fear of the Unknown.

At Marshall Eye Surgeons, we take time to answer any and all questions you may have and keep you well informed about next steps and what to expect.

We understand that any surgery, and especially eye surgery, can be stressful for both patients and their families. We make our best effort to alleviate that anxiety and stress during the office visits as well as during the actual surgery.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Marshall Eye Surgeons at 304-691-8800.

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Manik Goel, MD

Dr. Goel is a board-certified ophthalmologist and fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist with Marshall Eye Surgeons and an assistant professor in the department of ophthalmology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.