W. Barry Lee, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist specializing in cornea, external diseases and refractive surgery. His undergraduate and medical school degrees are from the University of Kentucky. He completed residency training at the University of Kentucky and his fellowship training at the University... more
It may seem like everyone you know these days over the age of 55 has been told they have a cataract or has already had a cataract removed.
What is a cataract? What causes cataracts? How can a cataract be treated?
We are all born with a crystalline lens inside our eyes, much like the lens of a camera. Through genetics, trauma, or longstanding ultraviolet light ray exposure from the sun, the clear crystalline lens starts to harden and turn yellow in color. When the lens is cloudy to the point where light rays cannot enter the cloudy lens, we refer to the lens as a cataract. Many people say that if you live long enough everyone will develop a cataract at some point due to our chronic sun exposure and genes.
Treatment for a cataract is either increasing the myopic power (minus power) of glasses or contacts until such point that the cataract is so cloudy that corrective lenses no longer improve vision. At that point, only surgical removal can help. Techniques have improved over the last few decades to the point where surgery is outpatient, relatively painless, and affords quick vision recovery in most cases. In fact, new technology known as femtosecond laser cataract removal is the newest advance to cataract surgery, where a precise laser is used to open the cataract, soften it, and correct astigmatism (abnormal shape of the front surface of the eye) at the same time. The laser advance is not required for all cataracts, but it may lead to quicker vision recovery and more precision when it comes to making vision better after cataract surgery.
A lens is replaced in the eye after the cataract is removed and this provides vision correction much like a contact lens, but it is permanent, does not need to be replaced, and is not felt in the eye like a contact lens. Various lens designs can give cataract surgery patients different goals on what they would like vision to be after cataract surgery.
Various lens designs include:
- Toric lenses correct distance vision and astigmatism.
- Monofocal lenses are targeted at either distance or near, depending on what is desired for the final vision outcome.
Multifocal lens implants give near and distance vision improvement, but they often cause night vision complaints such as glare, halos, and ghosting in severe circumstances. Your eye doctor can tell you the best way to remove the cataract and the best lens for you, so you don’t have to worry about cataracts anymore if you get to the right eye doctor!
More about Dr. Barry Lee:
W. Barry Lee, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist specializing in cornea, external diseases and refractive surgery. His undergraduate and medical school degrees are from the University of Kentucky. He completed residency training at the University of Kentucky and his fellowship training at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Lee joined Eye Consultants of Atlanta in 2003 and practices at the Cumberland and Buckhead locations.
Visit his practice website here: www.eyeconsultants.net