Cataracts: Consult to Surgery
Cataracts are a common age-related condition, causing blurred vision, sensitivity to light and other symptoms. Cataract surgery replaces the cloudy cataract lens with an intraocular lens implant that allows most patients to see well without the use of glasses or contacts. This painless, outpatient surgery takes 8-10 minutes per eye and involves a small, non-invasive incision and quick recovery time.
Dr. Cavanaugh: Well, cataracts are one of the most common diseases that we see in ophthalmology. The cause of cataracts, if patients ask me, I tell them it's birthday's. Typically they're an age related issue. Most people, as you get into your 60s or above are going to have some degree of cataracts. We're seeing it even sometimes in younger age groups. A cataract is when the natural human lens goes from being clear to becoming cloudy. What happens when the lens clouds over, it'll change the prescription of the eye a little bit, but more importantly, it causes blurry vision, glare, light sensitivity, sometimes some double vision, just overall a poor quality of acuity for the patient. When a patient comes in for a cataract consultation we're able to diagnose, not only the severity, but the type of cataract. Some cataracts are nuclear, or cortical, or posterior subcapsural. There are three different layers to the human lens and we can tell which layer those are in. Often times multiple layers. If a patient qualifies for cataract surgery, we simply do an outpatient procedure where we take out the cloudy human lens and replace it with an artificial lens called a lens implant. Cataract surgery has become a very, very straightforward outpatient procedure. It's something that takes typically about 8-10 minutes per eye. Done as an outpatient procedure, that's done over at Deer Creek Surgery Center, in a medicare certified facility. The process, patients are checked in over at the operating room. Pupils are dilated. Patients have a little bit of sedation. In the OR, you're comfortable, looking in a bright light. The procedure itself is painless, we do a very small incision, that's a sutureless type procedure. That's why the recovery's so fast is that we're in and out with a sutureless, noninvasive procedure. We're able to get a nice large optical result through a small incision. Out in recovery for just a few minutes and then on home to take a nice nap and go from there. Typically painless; come back and see us the next day and most people are seeing well and have very little discomfort and a very nice recovery. We treat cataract surgery just like we treat refractive surgery, just like we do a lasik patient. My goal is to not only treat the disease and clear the vision, but we want that vision clear without glasses at all distances if possible. We've kind of raised the bar a little bit on cataract surgery in that we want our patients really functioning better than they really ever have. It's really fun. Sometimes the spouse doesn't recognize the other spouse after they've been in glasses for 50 years and all of a sudden we're able to change that for them at age 75. Wow, what a difference for those patients.