One inevitable effect of aging on your eyes is cataracts – everyone gets cataracts. You have natural lenses in your eyes that act just like the lenses in a pair of glasses. These lenses have a very uniform structure, but over time, ultraviolet light from the sun degrades this structure. As a result, your natural lenses become both cloudy and “yellowy,” and it seems as if you’re looking at the world through yellowish frosted glass.
The only way to restore your vision to its pre-cataract state is to surgically remove the old lens. When cataract surgery was initially performed, the old lens would be removed outright. Since the natural lens provides significant focusing power, patients needed to wear either very thick glasses or high-power contact lenses. The good news is that techniques have greatly improved and now replacement lenses are inserted. A surgeon will make a very small incision and insert a, clear plastic lens replacement.
The first implants were single powered lenses and are still the most common type used. They are called “monofocal” lenses because they allow you to focus for distance and use glasses for intermediate/computer and near vision. However, many other options are possible today. Many patients are happy setting the focal point for one eye to distance and the other eye for intermediate/near vision. This choice, called “monovision,” allows clarity at both near and far but does diminish binocularity (when two independent images, one from each eye, are brought together to make one, three-dimensional image) and does not work for everyone. If you have astigmatism, there are now implants that can correct for this. Finally, multifocal implants have been invented that can help people focus at both distance and near with each eye. Not every patient can adapt to every option. At Atrius Health, both your optometrist and ophthalmologist will work with you to determine the best choice for you.
Cataract surgery can restore great vision but does not completely eliminate the need for glasses. Proper expectations before and after cataract surgery can help make this normal aging process one of the less frustrating aspects of getting older. Our experienced surgeons work with our highly trained optometrists and you to improve your quality of life.