June may signify the beginning of the beautiful summer months, but it also stands as Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, and remain a main cause of decreased vision in the United States. Cataracts form as the crystalline lens of the eye, which helps to focus light onto the retina, becomes cloudy over time. This can be exacerbated by increased exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke, certain medications, and ultimately age. There are no eye drops or medications that can be used to treat or reverse the course of cataracts; the only way to treat this condition is through surgery.
Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure in the country, performed in an outpatient setting that allows patients to go home that same day. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the cloudy cataract material, replacing it with a clear implant that imitates the original function of the natural crystalline lens. Through major advances in technology, not only are we able to restore visual clarity, but certain implants may help patients see without any glasses or contact lenses for distance vision, near vision, or in some cases even both!
Patients who have not been able to see clearly without correction due to astigmatism may benefit from femtosecond lasers, highly precise instruments that can correct lower amounts of astigmatism and aid in the early stages of incision formation and cataract removal. Higher amounts of astigmatism may be corrected with toric lenses, which are designed to align with the shape of the cornea to provide a clearer image. Patients looking to correct vision for both distance and near vision may be able to do so through specially designed multifocal lenses, providing the opportunity to see both far away and up close without correction for the first time in years, and sometimes decades.
The surgeons at Virginia Eye Consultants are experienced with a wide array of these laser and implant options, and have been amongst the first in the nation to have experience with these advanced technologies. Our team of optometrists is trained to help patients through postoperative care, and we work closely with your primary optometrist to ensure that your visual demands are met.
Don’t let cataracts impair you from the vision that you desire. Talk to your optometrist to see if you are ready for cataract surgery and discuss which option would be best for you.