A cataract is the natural clouding of the lens in the eye that blocks the path of light and makes vision blurry or hazy. Cataracts usually begin to form after age 50 and get gradually worse with time.
Symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- “Halo” effect or streaking around lights
- Difficulty with night vision
- Fading or dull colors
Should I have Surgery?
Early on, the symptoms of a cataract may be minimal or may be overcome with glasses or contacts. However, as the cataract continues to grow, it may begin to interfere with daily tasks such as reading and driving. At this point, it is reasonable to discuss cataract surgery with your doctor.
In cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant. See below for more information about the lens implants and other technologies that we use. Each eye is operated on separately, typically several weeks apart. While cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed and safest surgeries in the world, real and potential complications do exist with any surgery and cataract surgery is no exception.
Determining if cataract surgery is right for you requires a complete evaluation in the office, including a dilated eye exam and additional testing. At the end of the evaluation, your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of surgery. If you and your doctor decide to proceed with surgery, you will meet with our surgical coordinator to discuss scheduling and other instructions prior to surgery.
Day of Surgery
We operate at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley and Eye MD Laser and Surgery Center in Oakland. You can expect to be at the surgery center for several hours. You will require a driver on the day of surgery and for your appointment the following day. The surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to return home the same day.
Immediately after cataract surgery, the eye will feel irritated, and the vision may be blurred. With proper rest, avoidance of strenuous activities and use of prescribed eye drops, recovery is usually a matter of days, but may take several weeks. You will be examined in the office the day after surgery, and several additional appointments will be required to ensure proper healing.
Lens Implant Types
Standard lens implant
The standard lens implant is a single-focus lens aimed to replace the focusing power of your natural lens at one distance. Most patients will need glasses for many activities after surgery. Premium lens implants, available at an additional cost, aim to lessen or eliminate the need for glasses.
Astigmatism-correcting lens implants
Toric lens implants can be used to compensate for astigmatism, or the irregular curvature, of the cornea.
Multifocal lens implants
Several lens implants are designed to provide focusing power at a wider range of distances than the standard lens implants. You should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these implants with your doctor.
In addition to the conventional techniques used in cataract surgery, newer technologies not covered by insurance aim to increase accuracy and precision. The Alcon LenSx Laser System femtosecond laser can be used to aid in several steps of cataract surgery as well as treat small levels of corneal astigmatism. The ORA System utilizes intra-operative aberrometry to aid in more accurate implant selection, especially in eyes that are difficult to measure with conventional methods, including astigmatic and post-LASIK eyes.