What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a cloudiness that develops in the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens focuses the light rays onto the retina at the back of the eye. When the lens has clouded over with the development of a cataract, light becomes distorted and is not focused clearly on the retina. Vision is reduced, and blindness can eventually result.
A cataract is not a growth, a film, or a kind of cancer and almost everyone who lives a long life will develop cataracts. The cloudiness does not spread from one eye to the other, but cataracts will usually develop in both eyes at some time. Some cataracts mature slowly over a period of years, whereas others can form rapidly within a few months.
Cataracts develop most often as part of the normal aging process. Throughout a person's life, a natural hardening of the lens diminishes its ability to alter its shape for focusing on near objects, making reading glasses necessary in mid-life. At a certain point in each eye, an associated cloudiness begins to develop as well. This hardening and clouding process continues until the lens is completely opaque and light can no longer enter the eye. A cataract that forms in this way is known as an age-related cataract.
Cataracts vary in their development from person to person, so the symptoms also differ. Most people with developing cataracts experience only some of these symptoms because they are related to the different ways cataracts form. Some common symptoms of a cataract are as follows:
- A gradual loss of color vision - objects appear yellowed
- Increasing haziness causing blurred and distorted vision
- An increasing need for more light to see clearly
- Glare or starbursts at night - halos or colored rings around lights
- A tendency to become more nearsighted
- Double vision that persists even if only one eye is open
- In advanced stages, a change in the appearance of the pupil - it may appear white or yellow.
The highly qualified eye surgeons at our northern New Jersey practice give each patient a comprehensive eye examination to detect the presence of a cataract or any other condition which might be affecting vision and which may influence the outcome of cataract surgery.
If you or a loved one suspects the development of a cataract, contact one of our experienced eye surgeons in Westwood, New Jersey. The eye surgeons at our New Jersey ophthalmology practice have extensive experienced treating all categories of cataracts. To learn more about the development of cataracts and treatment with cataract surgery contact our eye surgeons in Westwood, New Jersey.
The Solution to the Cataract Problem
There is no known way to prevent cataracts from developing or to make the cloudy lens clear after a cataract has developed. Once cataracts have developed, they cannot be cured by medications, exercises, eye drops, or wearing special glasses or contact lenses. Fortunately, modern microsurgery offers a very real solution to the cataract problem. If there are no other serious problems with the eye, cataract surgery performed by our skilled eye surgeons in Westwood, New Jersey can provide excellent vision in over 99% of cases.
As a result of modern medical developments and surgical techniques, cataract surgery is now a highly successful operation with very few associated complications and very little or no discomfort.
Modern cataract surgery performed by our New Jersey eye surgeons involves removing the cloudy part of the natural lens, the eye’s focusing device, and then replacing the fine focusing ability of the eye. The surgeon begins by making a very small incision. Our eye surgeons prefer the specialized no-stitch incision because it can naturally seal itself after the surgery without stitches, allowing clear vision to return more quickly.
Removing the Cataract
The surgeon inserts a small ultrasonic probe through the incision and into the lens, which gently breaks up the cataract into tiny pieces that are then suctioned out of the eye. This procedure, known as phacoemulsification, is much less traumatic to the eye than other methods of cataract removal.
Implantation of the Intraocular Lens
Once the cataract lens has been removed, the surgeon replaces the focusing power of the natural lens with an intraocular lens implant, which is designed to fit right into the eye where it does not need any care. Lens implants can remain in the eye permanently since these materials are perfectly safe and will not be rejected by the eye. Thanks to revolutionary advancements in intraocular lens technology, we now offer premium lenses and toric lenses including the ReSTOR®, Alcon IQ Toric®, AMO Technis Toric®, Technis Multifocal® and Crystalens® lenses, which can compensate for preexisting focusing problems and allow patients excellent vision at all distances, giving them greater freedom from glasses after surgery.
Surgery is typically completed in less than 30 minutes and patients are allowed to leave the surgical facility almost immediately following the procedure.
For information on cataract surgery, contact our qualified eye surgeons in Westwood, New Jersey to arrange an appointment.
Painless Cataract Surgery
Many people are afraid of feeling pain during eye surgery, but this fear is groundless. Our eye surgeons always numb all our patients’ eyes before surgery with either topical or local anesthesia. Patients are only given a general anesthetic in very unusual cases.
For over 35 years, local anesthesia has been the anesthesia of choice of our eye surgeons for cataract surgery at our New Jersey practice. This type of anesthesia involves gently injecting numbing medications into the tissues around the eye. These injections do not hurt and provide completely effective anesthesia. The medications temporarily stop the eye from moving or focusing. The effects of the anesthesia gradually wear off after surgery, and vision returns by the next day.
Starting in 1995, our eye surgeons became the first to offer topical anesthesia in northern New Jersey. In these cases, only eye drops are used to numb the eye, making needles unnecessary. When eye drops are used, patients can still see out of their eyes and they can still move them. Topical anesthesia provides a number of advantages, including avoidance of the risks associated with local anesthesia. One of the most popular features of topical anesthesia is that people do not wear eye patches, which is important for people who only have sight in one eye and would be handicapped if they had that eye patched after surgery.
Because there are many advantages to each type of anesthesia, the type of anesthesia used before surgery will vary from patient to patient. Before any cataract surgery, one of the eye surgeons at our New Jersey ophthalmology practice will meet with the cataract patient to determine what type of anesthesia is most appropriate. The final choice of anesthesia will depend upon the needs of each patient and the opinions of the eye surgeon.
At Westwood Eye, we strive to give our patients the ultimate surgical experience. We are happy to educate you and your family regarding cataract surgery and answer any of your questions prior to the procedure. Our eye surgeons conveniently perform cataract surgery at one of two New Jersey facilities; patients may be treated at either Valley Hospital or Surgicare of Oradell, an outpatient surgery center. Both facilities are fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology and accommodating surgical facilities. Transportation to and from the center is often available for those patients who are unable to be driven to the center.
After cataract surgery, you will need to be seen at our Westwood, New Jersey office the next day and again periodically after surgery to monitor the healing process. Eyeglasses will be prescribed at your one-month visit, when the eye has finished healing.
Premium Intraocular Lenses
Presbyopia is the age-related loss of the ability to focus up close to read. New implants developed for use after cataract surgery can to a large extent reverse these changes and allow relative independence from glasses after surgery. Our surgeons have extensive experience with all the available models of intraocular lenses (IOLs). Each lens has its strengths and rather than offering one type of lens, our surgeons will identify which lens is best suited for your lifestyle.
ReSTOR® and ReSTOR ActiveFocusTM: The ReSTOR® IOL uses multifocal diffractive technology to increase independence from glasses. Its unique design means that in bright light when the pupil is constricted, incoming light is equally divided between near and distance vision for better reading. When the pupil is larger under dim light conditions, such as night driving, more light is dedicated to distance vision. All multifocal IOL's have the potential to produce halos around light sources at night, however these tend to be mild and improve over time. Over 90% of people with this IOL were satisfied with their vision and would choose this lens again.
Tecnis Multifocal® and Symfony®: The Tecnis family of lenses are advanced technology lenses that provides high quality vision at a variety of distances in all light conditions. Also using advanced optical technology, the Tecnis Multifocal® and Symfony® are able to provide comfortable reading vision in any light condition. A clinical study has shown that nearly 90% of people with the Tecnis Multifocal® in both eyes never or only occasionally wear glasses. Haloes can also be seen at night with these types of lenses and are likely to improve over time.
Crystalens®: The Crystalens® is designed to provide a continuous range of vision for distant, intermediate and near tasks. Near and intermediate vision result from the natural action of the focusing muscles in the eye. The movement of the lens enables the eye to focus at distance, intermediate and near to reduce your need for glasses after surgery. This lens provides the sharpest distance vision while providing excellent intermediate vision. Halos are least likely from this lens.
Medicare and other insurance plans do not fund the additional cost of these advanced technology implants and the related services needed for their use. Medicare patients are allowed to purchase these IOLs so that they may enjoy the advantages of presbyopia correcting IOLs following cataract surgery.
Toric Intraocular Lenses
If you have cataracts and astigmatism, you may benefit from a toric intraocular lens. At Westwood Ophthalmology Associates, we use the latest technology toric lenses, including the Acrysof® IQ Toric, Tecnis® Toric and Trulign™ to provide you with the highest quality vision and increase your spectacle independence for distance vision. Studies have shown these lenses to provide nearly 95% of patients to see better than 20/40 in the distance, enough to drive a car legally in all 50 states without glasses. Please contact our staff if you have astigmatism and are undergoing cataract surgery in northern NJ to see if you are a candidate for one of these advanced intraocular lenses.
Complex and Complicated Cataract Surgery
Although most cataract surgery is routine, some patients have certain conditions which can complicate surgery such as pseudoexfoliation, prior vitreoretinal surgery, Fuch’s dystrophy and advanced mature cataracts. Patients who take Flomax and other similar prostate medications can have a condition called intraoperative floppy iris syndrome (IFIS) which can increase the difficulty of the cataract operation. Complications such as dislocated lenses can occur during or sometimes years after surgery. In addition, poor visual results or unwanted visual phenomenon can rarely occur. Our surgeons have extensive experience with complicated cataracts and handling postoperative complications. Other surgeons often refer these difficult and complex eye surgeries to our Northern New Jersey office. If you or a family member have been told you have a difficult or complicated cataract surgery or are unhappy with the results of your cataract surgery, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our Bergen County surgeons.