What is a Cataract?
Contrary to popular belief, a cataract is not a type of “film” that forms over the surface of the eye. In reality, a cataract is a change in the clarity of the lens inside your eye, a gradual clouding that can make your vision less sharp over time.
You see, the eye works much like a camera, and like a camera, depends on a clear lens to properly focus images. A healthy, transparent lens absorbs light and accurately focuses it onto the retina (the back of your eye), providing a crisp, clear image.
As we age, however, proteins in the lens begin to clump together, forming opaque clusters. Over time, these protein clumps will eventually cloud the lens, allowing significantly less light to pass through.
The small amount of light that does make it to the retina is diffused or scattered, leaving vision defocused. These clusters can also change the coloration of the normally clear lens, tinting it a brownish shade that affects color perception.
What Are The Symptoms of Cataracts?
Cataracts generally develop slowly and painlessly. You may not even realize that your vision is changing. Still, cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people 55 and over – sooner or later, you’re bound to experience one or more of the following symptoms. Some symptoms of cataract development are:
- Blurred vision – Blurriness is one of the earliest and most common signs of cataracts. Changing your prescription may help, but it can’t correct the problem permanently.
- Faded or dull colors – Colors appear less vivid than they once were. Certain shades can become more difficult to differentiate from one another.
- Poor night vision – At first, you may simply need more light to read. Over time, you may find it more difficult to see objects in the dark, particularly when driving.
- Sensitivity to light – Lights may seem uncomfortably bright, or appear to have halos around them.
What Causes Cataracts?
Although the majority of cataracts develop on their own, as part of the natural aging process, certain risk factors can contribute to cataracts developing earlier, or at an accelerated rate. Risk factors for cataracts include:
- Trauma to the eye, including injury, burns, or surgery
- Toxins, including regular use of tobacco, alcohol, or corticosteroids
- Exposure to radiation, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and glaucoma
- Heredity can also play a factor in determining when cataracts will begin to form in your lenses.
Do I Need Cataract Surgery?
First things first– Do you really need cataract surgery?
A cloudy-looking eye is a sign that you might have a cataract. Other possible symptoms are blurry vision, double vision, halos around lights, light sensitivity, and/or colors that seem to be faded.
Early-stage cataracts are easy to treat as they are small and haven’t spread over the visual field. However, when cataracts progress to the optic nerve, invasive surgery becomes the only reliable way of restoring vision.
Get in touch with us immediately if any of these symptoms make it difficult for you to see well enough to read or drive safely, or cause you any discomfort. Many people affected by this common condition don’t do anything about it until they can no longer ignore their symptoms, which can result in loss of sight.
Talk with us today about how we can prevent cataract growth and help keep your vision healthy and intact for as long as possible.
Cataract Surgery Can Improve Your Life
After removing your natural lens, you will be fitted with a specific type of artificial intraocular lens called an IOL. We will use advanced preoperative measurement and corneal topography equipment to determine the best kind of IOL for your surgery, customizing it specifically to your needs. The benefits of cataract surgery performed at our Western MA practice include:
Expect Almost Immediate Improvement
Although it may take up to three months for your vision to fully recover following cataract-removal surgery, you can expect to see positive results within a matter of days.
Eliminate Dependency on Glasses or Contacts.
Cataract surgery can reduce or eliminate a patient’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses. Poor night vision and cloudy vision are precarious when driving at night.
Cataract Surgery can Help Restore Independence
Life without vision can be devastating and reduce your social interaction and independence. Our cataract surgery procedure can help you restore independence and enjoyment to activities such as reading, hiking, and watching TV.
As a result of cataracts, many people stumble and have trouble driving. Cataract removal allows for the implantation of an artificial lens that improves vision. This corrective measure can make walking and driving much safer.
What’s the Cataract Surgery Procedure?
Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss in the United States. As we age, natural lenses in our eyes become cloudy and discolored, causing blurring of vision. Chronic eye diseases and eye injury can trigger cataracts growth, significantly affecting your eyesight.
Though there is no cure for cataracts, advanced techniques and technology let surgeons remove the natural lens and implant an artificial lens to restore your clear vision.
Dr. John Frangie uses innovative technology to carefully remove the affected lens and implant an intraocular lens (IOL) during cataract surgery. The IOL will help you see clearly again.
In Western MA, Dr. John Frangie is a highly-skilled eye surgeon specializing in premium cataract surgery. He can help you regain the sharp, clear vision you deserve with this minimally invasive procedure.
What Can I Expect On The Day of Cataract Surgery?
Modern-era cataract surgery is considered a “day-stay” procedure. Most ambulatory surgicenters and hospitals will allow the patient to remain in their own clothes, with the addition of a gown, cap, and shoe covers in the operation room.
Patients can expect the trip to the surgicenter to last for about three hours. The procedure is usually performed under topical anesthesia and dilating drops. Additionally, an IV is placed to facilitate the use of sedation during the procedure.
After the cataract is removed, the intraocular lens is implanted, completing the surgery. You can view the procedure on our site.
The surgeon does a final check to make sure that the lens is in a good position. The wound is tested to ensure that it is watertight and that the lid supporting the speculum is removed. Immediately following the treatment, the patient is monitored in the postoperative holding area until they are ready for discharge.
Is Cataract Surgery Covered by Insurance?
The short answer is yes. Most insurance plans cover cataract surgery. However, there are some exceptions. For example, Medicare does not cover the cost of either glasses or contact lenses. Additionally, supplemental insurance plans or policies that an individual may have through their employer may not cover the cost of the surgery or an IOL. However, finding out if a particular plan covers cataract surgery can be challenging and can take hours of phone calls and research to get a definitive answer. We will work with your carrier to ensure that you get the maximum amount of coverage possible.
How Common is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure performed on adults in the United States. We are a Bausch and Lomb Center for Excellence in West Springfield, and as such we have an expert staff on hand to help with the procedure. The eye surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, generally, it takes a half-hour or less, and recovery time is usually only a few days.
WHAT LENS CHOICES ARE OFFERED?
Doctor Frangie is pleased to be able to offer his patients several choices for their implants, in an attempt to decrease dependence on spectacles and/or contact lenses, depending upon the specific characteristics of your eye, and your individual visual needs.
SINGLE FOCUS IOL (INTRAOCULAR LENS IMPLANT)
This implant is considered the “standard” implant and its design has not significantly changed in more than a decade. Following placement, the Single Focus Implant will allow the eye to see at a single focal point (most patients see better at distance), but in order to see at intermediate (computer distance) or up close (for instance sewing or reading) the eye will require either a contact lens or glasses.
Most insurance companies pay for cataract surgery with single focus implants, subject to your carrier’s specific co-pays and deductibles.
ASTIGMATISM-CORRECTING IOL IMPLANTS AND SURGERY
Astigmatism is typically a lifelong condition where the cornea, the outer window of the eye, has an irregular shape that prevents light from focusing accurately on the retina – even after standard cataract surgery.
In patients who are candidates, astigmatism may be corrected by either specific wound construction or a Toric lens implant, or both. Rarely, some patients may require an adjustment of their implant or even more rarely another procedure such as LASIK to improve their final visual outcome.
If further procedures to adjust/exchange your implant or procedure to fine-tune your vision are necessary, they will be done at no additional charge to you.
It is important to understand that while Astigmatism-Correcting Surgery will improve your uncorrected distance vision (and in some cases your intermediate distance vision) you will still need reading glasses for close tasks such as sewing, reading, model-building, etc.
MULTIFOCAL IOL IMPLANTS
These implants represent a major advancement in cataract vision correction. These lenses give recipients an enhanced “range” of vision so they have reduced dependency on contact lenses or glasses at almost all distances. While these technologies represent a definite improvement, it is important to realize that the implants will not give one’s eye the performance level of a normal twenty-year-old eye – the implants represent an improvement, not the fountain of youth!
This new generation of implants typically allows patients to drive without correction, play golf without correction, use the computer without correction and reduce the need for reading glasses.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT POST-OPERATION?
Most people see better within a day or two after cataract surgery, but it is not abnormal or worrisome if your vision seems blurry for a few weeks after surgery as your eye heals.
We will prescribe some eye drops for the healing period after surgery, and if you need new glasses after surgery, these will be prescribed for you once your eye is completely healed, usually about a month after surgery.
WHAT ARE THE POST-OP COMPLICATIONS? CAN MY CATARACTS COME BACK?
Cataracts cannot grow back, but sometimes a thin cloudy membrane grows behind the lens implant, making your vision blurry as the cataract did. This is not uncommon—it happens to roughly 10 percent of patients having cataract surgery. If it happens to you, a quick and simple laser treatment can be performed to re-establish clear vision.
Schedule Your Cataract Surgery
You could be struggling to see the labels on food packaging, or struggling with your vision for other reasons entirely. What you need is the simple solution of quick and easy cataract surgery – not just a prescription from your eye doctor.
Schedule an appointment with our eye surgeon today. You can also get in touch if you have any questions about cataracts. We will carefully examine your eyes through an eye exam to determine if you are suitable for cataract surgery.
(Updated: February 24, 2022)