Patient Education >> Cataracts


What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding to the natural lens of the eye, which is normally clear. The lens is responsible for directing light onto the retina. There are different types of cataracts, affecting all ages.

What are the symptoms of cataract formation?

Symptoms of cataract formation include diminished visual acuity, glare and halos at night, difficulty reading road signs, reading fine print, change in depth perception, and colors not being as vivid.

What are common risk factors for cataract formation?

Common factors contributing to cataracts include aging, sun exposure, diabetes, medication use such as prednisone, radiation, and trauma.

How are cataracts detected?

Cataracts are relatively simple to diagnose by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist during a routine eye examination. It is important, when making the diagnosis of cataract, to also examine the entire eye for evidence of any other eye disease, which may be compromising the vision.

What is the treatment of cataracts?

Treatment includes removing the dense lens by surgery. Technology has come a long way. The procedure is outpatient. The patient is given medicine through the vein, making them comfortable and relaxed. A small incision is made through the cornea, using a laser or blade, to gain access to the cataract. A central opening is created in the capsule holding the cataract. The cataract is then removed by phacoemulsification, which is a small probe that breaks the dense lens up into small fragments, removing it from the eye. An intra-ocular lens is then placed into the capsular bag, replacing the cataract.

How long does healing take?

Healing is dependent on age, medical conditions, and other eye conditions. Most patients see improvement in the first week and are able to get their new glasses at one month.

What are the options for intraocular lens implantation (IOLs)?

Today, we have IOL options to correct astigmatism (irregularity of the cornea), presbyopia (near vision), and distance vision. IOLs continue to be perfected and changed to lessen prescription in ones glasses, making many less dependent on spectacle wear.

What is laser assisted cataract surgery?

It’s called Refractive Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery and like LASIK, it brings a new standard of precision to cataract surgery. This custom, blade-free, laser assisted cataract removal option allows the surgeons at Alexandria Eye Clinic to plan and perform cataract surgeries to exacting, individualized specifications unattainable with standard cataract surgery.

Since cataract surgery using ReLACS™ uses the laser to perform the most critical steps of cataract surgery, patients not only receive the highest precision in surgical incision but can also reduce their dependence on glasses after their surgery. “For years we have offered advanced intraocular lenses that replace the cloudy lens we remove in cataract surgery,” says Dr. Ristvedt.

“These lens options help people improve their vision at distance, at near, and even help people with astigmatism. When used in conjunction with ReLACS™, these lenses may mean freedom from glasses after cataract surgery for a group of people who remain very active for decades after their retirement.