What is a Cataract?

A cataract is present when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The lens is located behind the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. The lens helps focus the rays of light coming from an object to form an image on the retina located at the back of the eye.

ABOUT CATARACTS

More than fifty percent of people over 60 years of age suffer from cataracts. Looking through a cataract is similar to looking through a window that is frosted or fogged with steam.

Common symptoms include painless blurring of vision, need for brighter lights to read, glare or light sensitivity, double vision in one eye, fading or yellowing of colors, and frequent eyeglass prescription changes.

WHAT CAUSES CATARACTS?

The most common cause of a cataract is aging of the eye. Other causes include family history, medical problems such as diabetes, injury to the eye, and medications such as steroids. A cataract cannot be caused by overusing the eyes. This is a common misconception.

HOW IS A CATARACT TREATED?

Currently there is no medical treatment shown to reverse or prevent cataracts. However, sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet light rays or regular glasses with a clear anti-ultraviolet coating may help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Once a cataract forms, there is only one way to achieve clear vision again, and that is by surgically removing the cataract from the eye.

In the early stages, stronger glasses can usually partially compensate for blurred vision from a cataract. When you believe the cataract is starting to interfere with your quality of life, it is time to consider surgery. The decision to proceed with surgery is yours and depends on your daily activities and your lifestyle.

HOW IS SURGERY PERFORMED?

Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and only takes a few minutes. Since topical anesthetic eye drops are used, there is no needle injection which can be risky and painful. Needle injection also delays visual recovery and could cause temporary swelling and eyelid skin discoloration. A small incision (about 1/8") is made. An instrument is introduced in the eye and is used to break up the cataract into small particles using high energy sound waves. These particles are gently suctioned from the eye. This technique is called phacoemulsification. The cataract is then replaced with a clear lens implant in order to restore the eye’s focusing ability. Since the incision is self-sealing, no stitches are required. No eye patch is necessary. Dr. Khouri is fully versed in the latest techniques of cataract surgery. These include the use of premium lens implants such as “Crystalens” made by “Bausch and Lomb” and the multifocal Tecnis lens made by "Allergan Medical Optics" to reduce or eliminate the dependence on glasses for distance , near and everywhere in between. They also include the use of limbal relaxing incisions in the cornea or “Acrysof” toric lens implants made by “Alcon” to reduce or eliminate astigmatism.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM CATARACT SURGERY

Over 1.4 million people undergo cataract surgery in the U.S. yearly, and over 98% of them experience improved vision. Everyone heals somewhat differently, but many patients notice visual improvement almost immediately after the procedure and return to their normal lifestyle routine within a day or two.

Once cataracts are surgically removed, they do not grow back. However, some patients may experience clouding of the natural capsule that supports the lens implant. In this case, a laser is used to painlessly open the cloudy capsule and restore clear vision almost immediately.

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