The natural lenses of our eyes focus our sight and are normally clear. A cataract is a condition that causes a clouding of the eye's natural lens. Cataracts cause a progressive, painless loss of vision.
In most cases, the exact cause of cataracts is not known. Most experts agree that cataracts are a normal and expected consequence of the natural aging process. Cataracts also may develop as a result of eye injury, certain medications such as oral steroids, illnesses such as diabetes, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, poor nutrition, and smoking.
Cataracts affect millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 60.
Patients with cataracts often do not experience any symptoms when the condition first develops. Cataracts will always progress, though very slowly in most cases, until all patients eventually experience:
Our doctors and staff will perform a series of tests in order to diagnose a cataract. A dilated eye exam will be performed to examine the condition of the lens and other parts of the eye. Our doctors may also perform tonometry, a procedure that measures the pressure in the eye, as some cataracts can actually cause high pressure and lead to glaucoma. Remember to bring sunglasses with you to your eye examination, as your pupils may remain dilated for 2 to 3 hours after you leave the office.
When visual impairment begins to interfere with your ability to read, work or do the things you enjoy, you may want to consider cataract surgery to restore your vision. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the US, and can be performed quickly and easily with a success rate approaching 98 percent and a minimal risk of complications.
Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure performed under sedation that involves numbing the eyes with anesthesia and then making a tiny incision into which an ultrasonic probe is inserted. The probe breaks up, or emulsifies, the cloudy lens into tiny pieces and then suctions them out of the eye. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, a new artificial lens is implanted into the eye. This lens is known as an intraocular lens (IOL), and is inserted through the same incision that the old lens was removed from. Surgery usually takes only a few minutes to perform, six to ten minutes on average, and is painless for most patients.
After the procedure, a patch may be placed over the eye and you will be asked to rest for a while. Patients can return home the very same day, but will need someone to drive them home. Typically, the next day your eye will be examined to make sure it is healing properly. For a few days, you may experience itching, mild discomfort, fluid discharge and sensitivity to light and touch. Dr. Siedlecki will prescribe eye drops to help the healing process and to reduce the risk of infection.
Your surgery will be performed at The Eye Institute, our on-site, office-based Ambulatory Surgery Center at 170 Maple Road, Williamsville. It is licensed by the New York State Department of Health and accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Our professional, friendly staff will guide you through your surgery.
An intraocular lens (IOL) is an implantable lens that is placed in the eye after a cataract is removed, replacing the eye's natural lens. The new IOL remains in the eye permanently. There are several different types of IOLs available to help each patient achieve the best possible results from his/her cataract surgery.
Monofocal lens implants have a single zone of focus. Monofocal lenses usually provide great distance vision, but require the use of glasses for reading and intermediate vision. Premium lenses provide an enhanced visual outcome and are recommended for patients who desire a lifestyle less dependent on wearing glasses. Multifocal IOLs have several vision zones, allowing for vision correction at near, intermediate and far distances. Accommodative lenses are designed to use your own eye muscles to focus for clear distance and intermediate vision. A third type of premium lens, Toric IOLs, can also correct astigmatism.
These choices were not always available for cataract patients. In the past, cataract surgery only involved implanting monofocal lenses, which could only focus on objects either near or far, but could not adjust to accommodate varying distances. These patients still had to rely on glasses or contact lenses after surgery in order to see clearly at all distances, especially in older patients suffering from presbyopia. Today, there are a variety of lenses to meet each patient's needs.
Various tests and measurements will be performed on your eye, and Dr. Siedlecki will use this information as well as a personal assessment of your lifestyle to recommend a lens for you. We call this High Definition Customized Cataract Surgery, because it is tailored to your individual needs. Between the choices of lenses available and the latest surgical techniques, there has never been a better time to have cataract surgery!
For a more detailed discussion of the different IOLs available at Siedlecki Cataract & Vision Care, please visit our Premium Lens Implants page.
If left untreated, cataracts will worsen over time and may lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness. It is important to see our eye doctors regularly in order to detect cataracts as early as possible and to plan an effective treatment method. Although cataract surgery is considered safe, there are certain risks associated with any surgery, which should be discussed with Dr. Siedlecki before making a final decision to have cataract surgery. Complications are rare, occurring in roughly one percent of cases, but can include an increase in intraocular pressure and retinal detachment. Other risks may include pain, infection, swelling and bleeding. Most patients undergo this procedure without any complications.
During cataract surgery, the doctor replaces the clouded lens with an artificial one to correct vision. However, after surgery, many people experience a gradual clouding on the covering of the new lens, a condition known as after-cataract or secondary membrane. This type of clouding is a common complication of cataract surgery and can cause blurred vision to return, but a solution is available to treat this side effect.
A thirty to sixty second procedure called a posterior capsulotomy, using an Nd: YAG laser, can be performed to remove the secondary membrane and let light pass clearly through to the retina again.
The capsulotomy is performed in our in-office surgery center and is a painless procedure that does not require any anesthesia.