Believe it or not, cataract surgery has been around for hundreds of years. Since the 1700’s, society has been trying to correct the eye problem that now occurs in nearly 50% of people over the age of 80. While LASIK surgery is an extremely popular vision correction surgery for young and middle-age adults, cataract surgery has become almost a necessity for many seniors in their older years.
If you’re not familiar with what cataracts are, it’s important to know that they not only cause vision impairment, but they eventually lead to complete blindness over time if they are not removed from the eye. But unlike hundreds of years ago when doctors were first experimenting with cataract removal, those who suffer from cataracts today have some of the most advanced technology available that makes this procedure quick and virtually painless.
What Exactly Are Cataracts?
Cataracts can be most simply explained as clouding that forms in the lens of the eye. As this clouding becomes denser, it restricts the amount of light that can enter the eye. Over time, this clouding becomes so thick that it restricts almost all light entering the eye, causing partial or complete blindness. Even though cataracts mostly occur in the elderly due to aging, they can also form in people of all ages as a result of trauma to the eye or health problems. Because cataracts develop slowly, many people aren’t aware that they are an in issue until they are diagnosed by an eye doctor.
How Are Cataracts Removed?
It’s no exaggeration to say that cataract surgery has improved leaps and bounds in the past several hundred years, and particularly during the past 50 years. What used to be performed with crude instruments can now be done by computers and lasers using the most precise measurements.
During cataract surgery, a surgeon must make an incision in the eye and remove the lens that is obstructed by the cataract. Removing the clouded lens allows light to once again properly enter the eye. Thanks to modern technology, replacement lenses, also known as an intraocular lens (IOL), have been developed that can be inserted into the eye and act just like the eye’s natural lens, allowing the patient to see normally again. Modern cataract procedures last about 20 minutes per eye. The patient is given a local anesthetic to prevent any pain caused by the incisions, and they are typically able to see with normal visions within several days.
The Latest Advances in Cataract Surgery
The most recent developments for cataract surgery are nothing short of amazing. In 2011, the LenSx cataract laser was introduced to the eye care industry as the first completely computerized surgical tool for cataract procedures. The LenSx allows doctors to make the most precise measurements for incisions using a computerized system, and then to actually make the incisions with lasers guided the computerized machine.
With the LenSx laser, doctors are able to eliminate virtually all surgical errors that could be caused by manual incisions. It also uses the smallest incisions possible, allowing for a shorter recovery time.
Additionally, recent developments in the type of intraocular lenses that are available are producing life-changing results for many cataract patients. Prior to the development of the multi-focal artificial lens, cataract patients had to choose whether they preferred an artificial lens that would provide excellent nearsightedness or excellent far sightedness.
Depending on the lens selected, patients would often still have to wear glasses after their cataract procedure. However, new multi-focal lenses are designed to function just as the natural eye lens, providing near-perfect vision up close and far away. Thanks to these lenses, patients can experience perfect or near-perfect vision without the aid of glasses for the rest of their life.