As an Atlanta cataract surgery specialist, Dr. Milan Patel encounters many patients who consider poor vision an inevitable fact of aging. However, cataract surgery is actually a simple, relatively painless procedure to restore vision. With more than 3 million Americans undergoing the procedure each year, cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States. And the procedure is very successful in restoring vision. Nine out of 10 people who have cataract surgery regain very good vision, somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40.
Artificial intraocular lenses, or IOLs, replace the eye’s natural lens that is removed during cataract surgery. Traditional IOL’s used as replacement lenses after cataract surgery are monofocal, meaning they improve only distance vision. If you had traditional IOL’s, you would still have to wear glasses or contacts for reading. However, the cataract replacement lenses available to you today are greatly improved, allowing you to see near, far, and everywhere in-between without glasses or contacts.
There was a time when cataract surgery could only restore a patient’s distance vision after cataract surgery. But today, thanks to the breakthrough AcrySof ReStor, Crystalens , and TECNIS Multifocal intraocular lens (IOL’s), you can enjoy crisp, clear, glasses-free vision from near to far. Unlike standard cataract replacement lenses, multifocal IOL lenses correct your cataracts and give you back your full range of vision. They focus like your eyes’ natural lens. Most patients never need glasses or contacts again.
Astigmatism is a common condition that may cause blurred vision. The distorted vision is due to the eye’s cornea or lens having an irregular shape. The cornea and lens of a normally shaped eye have a smooth circular surface, like a ball. With astigmatism, the cornea or the lens will have more of an oblong, football-like shape.
Astigmatic patients with cataracts, however, can benefit by having the FDA approved AcrySof Toric IOL implanted during their cataract and lens replacement surgery. With these type of implants, Milan Eye Center Atlanta cataract surgery specialists treat the cataract and astigmatism at the same time.
Prior to cataract surgery, Dr. Patel performs a series of tests to measure the curvature of the cornea as well as the size and shape of your eye. These tests enable him to select the best type of IOL with the proper refractive strength. Cataract surgeries are performed one eye at a time.
During cataract surgery most people need minimal anesthesia and numbing drops without having to be put to sleep. Total surgery time usually lasts approximately 10 minutes. You will be given an anesthetic eye drop to numb the nerves in and around your eye. A special instrument known as a lid speculum is used to hold your eye open.
For the quick cataract surgery itself, a tiny incision is made, the natural clouded lens is removed, and a new lens implant is placed within the eye. Results should be permanent and life changing.
After surgery, a shield will be placed over your eye and you will be asked to rest for a short time. Since it is not recommended that you drive home after your surgery, Dr Patel recommends having someone to drive you home. Dr. Patel also prescribes special eye drops to speed your recovery and to control pressure inside your eye. Most patients return to their normal activities the very next day with complete healing finishing after 6 weeks.
While you can return to your normal activities, you may experience some blurriness and notice that colors are brighter. Within a few months after receiving an new IOL, these issues should go away.
Approximately one in four patients who have cataract surgery will develop cloudiness on the back of the newly implanted lens. This generally occurs within 5 years after surgery and there’s no way to predict who will develop this cloudiness. If this issue does happen, Dr. Patel can easily correct the problem with an in-office procedure known as a YAG posterior capsulotomy. A surgical laser is used to create an opening in the clouded capsule, allowing light to pass through to the retina.
There is no pain involved in this surgery and the procedure takes approximately 5 minutes to perform. Improved vision is noticed right after the surgery and patients can return to normal activities immediately.