Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common eye surgeries performed in the United States. Here in Arizona, it is even more common than in other areas due to our warm climate and senior population.
Over the decades, cataract surgery has advanced quite a bit to be the simple, elegant, effective technique it is today. While older forms of the surgery involved large incisions through which the cataract had to be removed and not great results for post-surgery vision, today’s advancements allow for tiny incisions and amazing vision after the procedure.
Here at Center for Sight we can cure cataracts completely and even fix refractive errors at the same time by replacing the eye’s natural lens with a state-of-the-art intraocular lens (IOL).
We know you have questions, as many of our patients do. Here are some answers to the top questions we get about cataracts and cataract surgery:
Cataract Surgery FAQ
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a “clouding over” of the natural lens of the eye. Your lens is clearest when you are about 10 years old. Over time, the lens becomes more and more opaque, and when it becomes so cloudy that it affects your quality of life, we call the lens a cataract. Living with cataracts is like living in a perpetual fog, indoors and out.
Why do people get cataracts?
Unfortunately, cataracts are just one of many effects of aging, and eventually, if you live long enough, you’ll develop cataracts. So will we. So will everybody.
Can cataracts be prevented?
No. Scientists are working on slowing the development of cataracts with medication, but there are no preventative treatments for cataracts at this time. As far as treatment goes, currently the only treatment for cataracts is surgery.
What happens if cataracts are left untreated?
While they won’t pose a life-threatening danger to your health, severe cataracts can eventually develop into blindness. In the worst cases of cataracts, the patient’s vision has degenerated so badly that he or she can only distinguish between light and dark.
Is cataract surgery safe?
Yes. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed and has a great safety record. While all surgeries involve some risk, today’s cataract surgeries involve only minor or very rare complications.
Does insurance cover cataract surgery?
Insurance will pay for cataract surgery when the cataract has developed to the point where it is decreasing your quality of life. During this type of surgery, (insert names of doctors) will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL). There are many types of IOLs on the market, including ones with advanced vision correction. If you would like to choose a more advanced IOL, you will have to pay extra for it as insurance currently only covers the basic IOL, which is optimized for distance vision.
Will I need to wear glasses or contacts after cataract surgery?
With the basic IOL, patients usually still need glasses or contacts, even for distance vision. Another option is to correct your vision at the same time your cataracts are removed.
Astigmatism can be fixed with a surgical procedure that can be done during the cataract surgery procedure, with special premium IOLs used in place of basic IOLs, or with laser vision correction performed after the cataract procedure. Premium IOLs can also correct near or distance vision, and through a technique known as “blended vision,” your premium IOLs can help you see both near and at a distance, freeing you even from the need for a pair of reading glasses.
Is Dr. Petelin board certified?
Yes. Click here for more on Dr. Petelin
What happens during cataract surgery?
When you come in for your cataract surgery, your eye is anesthetized with surgical drops so that you will not feel what is happening. Next, the surgeon makes a micro-incision in the front of the eye and a tiny opening in the capsule that holds the cataract. An ultrasound probe is used to break up the cloudy lens in a process called phacoemulsification. This way, the bits of cataract can be removed through a smaller opening, rather than pulling the damaged lens whole through a larger incision. The surgeon then replaces the cataract with a customized IOL. At this point, the micro-incisions are hydrated so that they can seal and heal on their own with no sutures. And you’re done!
Does cataract surgery hurt?
No. While it sounds scary to have surgery on your eye, the truth is that you eye is anesthetized, only a little over a tenth of an inch of the eye is affected, and it heals quickly.
How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?
Most patients can return to their regular activities the day after surgery, with some minor limitations.
Can my cataracts come back?
Your new IOLs are made of synthetic material that won’t degrade and cloud over like the eye’s natural lens. However, in about half of patients, slight cloudiness may occur in the capsule holding the lens. If this happens, a one-time, one-minute laser procedure can correct it. This procedure is covered by insurance.
What are my options for intraocular lenses (IOLs)?
Basic IOLs have worked well for millions of people across the globe. These clear lenses are optimized for distance vision, but patients may still need glasses for distance vision and will definitely need glasses for intermediate and near vision. Basic IOLs are covered by insurance.
If you want to correct your refractive error as well as get rid of your cataracts, you can choose precision blending IOLs. Through a combination of advanced diagnostics and highly sophisticated lens technology, your cataract surgery can also free you from glasses or contact lenses, correcting distance, intermediate and near vision all at the same time! This technology is amazing, but it is also elective, so there will be an out-of-pocket expense to you for the use of precision blending IOLs.
Premium IOLs offer excellent near vision along with distance vision. These can be customized based on your unique vision requirements and lifestyle. Premium IOLs are also subject to additional out-of-pocket expenses.