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What Is a Cataract

When it comes to cataract surgery and lens implantation, our goal is to help you make a more informed decision on which cataract options are best suited for your needs. Your lifestyle and the role your eyes play in the activities you enjoy most will play an important role in helping us customize a cataract surgery plan that is tailor made to fit your needs. Please be sure to ask one of our surgeons or staff members about your cataract options or for additional information if necessary.

Most patients don’t realize that cataract development can begin as early as age 40. By the time we’re 50, some of us already have measurable deficiencies in our vision due to cataracts.

Cataracts are simply a natural part of the aging process that is taking place inside your eye. It’s a gradual clouding of the normally clear natural lens of the eye. Although barely noticeable in its early stages, over time, this clouding process makes your vision less sharp, reducing your contrast and making activities like night driving and reading more difficult.

Fortunately, modern-day cataract removal and lens implantation is one of the safest, most common – AND MOST SUCCESSFUL – surgical procedures performed today.

Choices In Cataract Lenses

The Symfony Cataract Lens Implant

Providing Cataract Patients A Continuous Range of High Quality Vision

Today’s cataract patients demand excellent vision after surgery. Traditional intraocular lenses (IOLs) provided cataract patients only a limited range of vision and did not correct astigmatism. This often left people dependent upon reading glasses or bifocals after cataract surgery.

Extended Depth of Focus

The groundbreaking Symfony/Symfony Toric IOL is the first and only Extended Depth of Focus (EDOF) IOL, a new category of presbyopia-correcting cataract lenses with full FDA approval in the United States. It provides patients a FULL RANGE of continuous high quality vision while also minimizing the effects of presbyopia by helping patients focus at near.

Correcting Your Astigmatism

Another unprecedented feature of the recent FDA approval includes a Toric version of the lens – the Symfony Toric IOL – for patients with astigmatism. Advancements such as the Symfony/Symfony Toric IOL multifocal and accommodating lens technology make it possible to greatly reduce the need for spectacles for reading and computer work, while still allowing you to see objects clearly in the distance.

Results From FDA Trials

In FDA clinical trials collaborated by multiple US sites, patients in the Symfony/Symfony Toric IOL group achieved greater improvements in intermediate and near vision while maintaining excellent distance vision when compared to a standard single focus IOL. Symfony/Symfony Toric patients were also more likely to enjoy reduced dependence on corrective eyewear overall and achieved a higher overall visual performance in any lighting condition.

BENEFITS
  • Offers Extended Depth of Focus (EDOF). Patients benefit from a completely new category of presbyopia-correcting IOL technology.
  • Provides continuous, full-range vision. Patients can see objects clearly at near, intermediate and far away distances, and points in between.
  • Yields high-quality vision. Patients with a Symfony/Symfony Toric IOL report a high level of visual quality.
  • Demonstrates “non-inferiority” in terms of halo and glare, day-and-night. FDA clinical trials show that patients with a Symfony/Symfony Toric IOL notice no worse halo or glare as compared to standard monofocal IOLs in any lighting environment.
  • Corrects astigmatism. Patients’ pre-existing astigmatism will be corrected by Symfony/Symfony Toric IOL without the need for additional surgeries on their corneas.

“This truly is a landmark advance not only in cataract lens implant technology, but also in the quality of visual outcome for our patients, especially those with presbyopia. The new Symfony IOLs are specially designed with features to improve both the range and quality of vision, therefore being recognized as a new category of cataract lenses.”
– The Eye Guys Surgeons

Multi-Focal Cataract Lenses Give Patients A Broader Range of Vision

Tecnis Multi-Focal (TMF) Lens Explained
Tecnis Multifocal Lens

Prior to the FDA-approval (and Medicare approval) of multi-focal lens implants during cataract surgery, patients undergoing cataract removal and lens implantation received a monofocal, or single focus intraocular lens implant (IOL). Still in use today, these single focus IOLs are designed to provide excellent distance vision. But most patients will need prescription glasses for near and intermediate vision.

Abbott Medical Optics, (AMO, Inc.) is a trusted ophthalmic leader in both monofocal and multi-focal lens technology. Unlike a single focus IOL, the Tecnis multifocal IOL offers cataract patients a much broader, less restricted range of vision, including near, intermediate and distance. The new TMF IOL is becoming the multi-focal IOL of choice for the surgeons at The Eye Guys because of the predictable range of vision it offers our patients.

Nearly 9 out of 10 patients who receive a Tecnis multifocal lens report never wearing glasses after the procedure, the highest level of glasses independence for any IOL. At The Eye Guys, this percentage varies according to your age, the ocular health of your eyes and the overall severity of your cataract.

The Tecnis multifocal IOL is designed with several focal points within the lens, allowing patients to see well at multiple distances. Another advantage of the Tecnis multifocal IOL is its unique aspheric design. Using a wavefront analysis of your visual system, this unique design is intended to eliminate any ‘high order aberrations’ that may cause glare, halos and poor vision quality in low light after cataract surgery.

The Tecnis IOL is also approved by the FDA to correct presbyopia, or the need for reading glasses. Its unique design has shown to give patients superior near vision and exceptional reading speed clarity when compared to other presbyopia-correcting IOLs in the marketplace.

The Tecnis Multifocal IOL is the latest in lens technology and has quickly become the IOL of choice for surgeons worldwide. That also explains why over 94% of patients who receive the Tecnis Multifocal IOL procedure say they’d do it again – the highest approval rating for any IOL.

Multifocal Lens vs Monofocal Lens

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. This lens, located behind the iris, works just like the lens of a camera – focusing light images on the retina, which sends images to the brain. The lens can become so clouded that it keeps light and images from reaching the retina.

A cataract can be the reason sharp images become blurred, bright colors become dull, or seeing at night is more difficult. It may also be the reason glasses no longer seem to help. Vision with cataracts has been described as seeing through old, cloudy film. But a cataract is not a “film” over the eyes, and neither diet nor medication will make it go away. Eye injury, certain diseases, or even some medications can cause a cataract. A cataract is treated by removing the old clouded lens and replacing it with a new artificial lens to restore your vision. This lens is called an implant.

Once it is determined that you have cataracts and that they must be removed, there are several options for the type of lens implant that is used to restore your vision. Until recently, cataract patients received monofocal lens implants that only had a single power. With a monofocal implant, you have a choice of correction for either near or far vision, but not both. The FDA has now approved multifocal lens implants for use by certified ophthalmologists. The multifocal lens can increase your chances for a life free of dependence on glasses or contacts after cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is an opportunity to minimize or eliminate the hassle of glasses and contacts from your life. The implantation process is the same for either type of lens. The main point of differentiation between the lens implants is the type of vision they provide.

Multifocal vs Monofocal

Multifocal Monofocal
Corrects vision for far, near, and intermediate Provides good vision at one distance (typically far vision)
Minimizes or eliminates glasses Requires reading glasses after surgery
Partial coverage by Medicare or other insurance Covered by Medicare or private insurance

 

Another exciting lens implant option is the new Toric Intraocular Lens from Alcon. Eye Physicians and Surgeons was the first in Augusta, and still one of the only, practices to offer this new technology. Astigmatism is a condition where the cornea has an irregular shape. Until recently, patients with astigmatism still required glasses after cataract surgery while patients without astigmatism enjoyed significantly less dependence on glasses. Astigmatism can be treated with glasses, contacts, and laser surgery. Since cataract surgery involves the lens inside the eye, any existing astigmatism from the cornea is still present after surgery. Fortunately, there is now a lens implant that can not only correct the cataract, but also greatly decrease astigmatism caused by an irregular cornea. Once the astigmatism is also corrected, your dependence on distance glasses will be greatly decreased or eliminated.

Treating Glaucoma

Thanks to advances in technology we can now add another important step to cataract surgery that allows glaucoma to be treated in a completely new way. The iStent trabecular micro-bypass stent is the world’s tiniest medical device and is 20,000 times smaller than the intraocular lens used at the time of cataract surgery. By increasing the eye’s ability to drain fluid, this technology is designed to improve the aqueous outflow to safely lower your eye pressure. In a US clinical study 68% of patients who received the iStent remained medication free at 12 months. Once the iStent is implanted it will immediately begin working to safely and effectively help manage your eye pressure and glaucoma. If you have glaucoma please talk to your doctor about this exciting new technology.


How is a cataract detected?

A thorough eye examination by a qualified eye care professional can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision or discomfort.

There may be other reasons for visual loss in addition to the cataract, such as problems involving the retina or optic nerve. If these problems are present, perfect vision may not return after cataract removal. If such conditions are severe, removal of the cataract may not result in any improvement in vision. The ophthalmologist will decide how much visual improvement is likely.

How fast does a cataract develop?

How quickly a cataract develops varies among individuals, and may vary even between the two eyes. Most cataracts associated with aging progress gradually over a period of years.

Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a few months and cause vision to worsen quickly. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person.

How is a cataract treated?

Surgery is the only way the ophthalmologist can remove the cataract. However, if symptoms from a cataract are mild, a change in glasses may be all that is needed for adequate vision.

There are no medications, dietary supplements, exercises or optical devices that have been proven to prevent or cure cataracts.
Protection from excessive sunlight may help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Sunglasses that screen out ultraviolet (UV) light rays or regular eyeglasses with a clear, anti-UV coating offer this protection.

When Should I Have Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery should be considered when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with daily activities. It is not true that cataracts need to be “ripe” before they can be removed.

Cataract surgery can be performed when your visual needs require it. You must decide if you can see to do your job and drive safely, and if you can read and watch TV in comfort. Can you perform daily tasks such as cooking, shopping, yard work, and taking of medications without difficulty?

Based on your symptoms, you and your ophthalmologist should decide together when surgery is appropriate.

What Can I Expect from Cataract Surgery?

Over 1.4 million people have cataract surgery each year in the United States.

Cataract surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. The cloudy lens is removed from the eye, and in most cases, the focusing power lost in the removal of the natural lens is restored by replacing the natural lens with a permanent intraocular lens implant.

Your ophthalmologist performs this delicate surgery using a microscope, microsurgical instruments and other modern technology.

In approximately one-fifth of people having cataract surgery, the natural capsule that supports the intraocular lens will eventually become cloudy. Laser surgery is used to open this cloudy capsule and restore clear vision.

After cataract surgery, you may return almost immediately to all but the most strenuous activities. You will use eye drops as your ophthalmologist directs. Several postoperative visits are needed to check on the progress of the eye as it heals.

Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure. A majority of the cases result in greatly improved vision, unless there is a problem with the cornea, retina or optic nerve. It is important to understand that complications can occur during or after the surgery, some severe enough to limit vision. As with any surgery, a good result cannot be guaranteed.

Conclusion

Cataracts are a common cause of poor vision, particularly for the elderly, but they are treatable. Your ophthalmologist can tell you whether a cataract or some other problem is the cause for your vision loss or discomfort, and will help you decide if cataract surgery is appropriate for you.

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