What are they?

cataract chico eye center
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye with the amount and pattern of cloudiness varying. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that a cataract is present. Cataracts can be compared to a window that is frosted or fogged with steam and results in blurred vision. Cataracts occur inside the eye, not on the surface, and they can develop in one or both eyes. How quickly the cataract develops varies among individuals, and may vary even between the two eyes. Most cataracts associated with aging progress gradually over a period of several years. Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a few months. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person. When vision loss due to cataracts affects a person’s ability to do the tasks they want to do or need to do, cataract surgery becomes necessary. It is the leading cause of blindness in the world and the most common surgery performed with over 2.5 million people a year having cataract surgery in the United States.

Symptoms

  • Glare or light sensitivity
  • Frequent eyeglass prescription changes
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Needing brighter light to read
  • Poor night vision with halos and starbursts
  • Fading or yellowing of colors

Causes

  • Aging of the eye
  • Family History
  • Medical problems, such as diabetes
  • Injury to the eye
  • Medications, such as steroids
  • Previous eye surgery

Treatment

A thorough eye examination by your ophthalmologist or optometrist can detect the presence and extent of a cataract. Surgery is the only way your ophthalmologist can remove the cataract. However, if symptoms from a cataract are mild, a change of glasses may be all that is needed for you to function more comfortably. There are no medications, dietary supplements, exercises or optical devices that have been proven to prevent or cure cataracts.
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Advanced Technology Lenses

In the past, when a surgeon performed cataract surgery, the only option was to implant a monofocal intraocular lens (IOL). This could provide good distance vision, but did not allow patients to see at various focal distances and did not address any issues with astigmatism. Now, there are a wide range of replacement lenses available to cataract patients, each offering different advantages for your post-surgery vision. The most effective lens depends on each patient’s individual preferences and goals for their vision. The latest lenses help reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contacts after cataract surgery for the rest of your life, providing convenient and effective results for your specific vision conditions.
Types of IOLs
Monofocal IOL
Multifocal IOL
Multifocal Toric
Toric
Distance Vision Correction
Very Good
Very Good
Excellent
Excellent
Near Vision Correction
None
Excellent
Very Good
None
Astigmatism Correction
None
None
Excellent
Excellent
Success rate of patient being independent of glasses (with lenses in both eyes)
5-10%
80%
90-95%
10-20%
Cost of IOL fully covered by medical insurance if medically necessary
Full
Surgical Portion Covered
Surgical Portion Covered
Surgical Portion Covered
Duration of Effect
Permanent
Permanent
Permanent
Permanent

Standard Cataract Surgery

Standard cataract surgery has advanced dramatically over the past few decades. In most cases, the cataract is extracted through a micro incision and a monofocal, or single focus, intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted. This replaces the cloudy natural lens (cataract). Each eye is done on separate days, usually about two weeks apart. The procedure usually only takes about 10 minutes, but patients will be at the surgery center for about two hours. Prior to the procedure, patients receive sedation and will feel no pain and be completely relaxed during the procedure. Also, there is usually minimal or no pain following surgery. There are some minor vision fluctuations the first few days after surgery that diminish as the eye heals. Most patients are able to see clearly very quickly and some may even be able to drive the day after surgery. Since this surgery only removes the cataract, patients who wore glasses or contacts before surgery will most likely still need them after surgery.

Custom Cataract Surgery

Many patients qualify for custom cataract surgery with access to several additional options if they wish to reduce their dependence on glasses or contact lenses. Custom cataract surgery includes advanced testing and technology, and provides additional benefits by using advanced technology IOLs. These specialty IOLs enhance vision and usually decrease dependence on glasses (see table above). Custom cataract surgery helps to reduce or eliminate astigmatism and presbyopia, the conditions, or refractive errors, that remain following standard cataract surgery. Custom cataract surgery is also a great option for those who have had previous LASIK, PRK, or RK surgery. It is important to note that Medicare and most major insurance companies will cover the cataract surgery, but they do not cover the additional expense of advanced technology IOLs or premium testing for custom cataract surgery. Our surgical coordinators can review a patient’s insurance coverage, out of pocket expenses, and review financing options if they are found to be a good candidate for custom cataract surgery.

Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery

Just as there are options when it comes to selecting the best lens for a person’s lifestyle, there are also options for choosing the technology used to do cataract surgery. Cataract surgery can be done manually (entirely by hand) or with the assistance of laser technology. All the surgeons at Chico Eye Center excel at doing surgery with either technique. In laser assisted cataract surgery, the laser is used to make extremely precise incisions into the eye, make perfectly round openings into the cataract, create incisions in the cornea to reduce astigmatism (if needed), and pre-fragment the cataract to facilitate the lens removal. This usually results in a more efficient surgery with less surgical time inside the eye and is generally gentler and better tolerated by the eye. Although either type of surgery is extremely effective, laser assisted cataract surgeries are generally more predictable and precise.