What are Cataracts?
When the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded, cataracts are present. This clouding can cause blurred or distorted vision, and may also make colors appear duller than they should. Cataracts generally develop slowly and don’t impact vision at first, but the natural progression of cataracts leads to worsening vision over time.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Possible vision problems caused by cataracts include:
- Blurry, dim, or distorted vision
- Impaired or difficult night vision
- Light sensitivity
- The appearance of “halos” around lights
- Fading colors
- Double vision
- Frequent changes in vision prescription
Treatment for Cataracts
At first, individuals who have clouding from cataracts may be able to get by with a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Eventually, cataract surgery is necessary when glasses or contacts no longer work to correct your vision. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens of the eye is removed and replaced with a clear intraocular lens implant (IOL).1
Intraocular Lens (IOL) Options for Cataract Surgery
During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). At Virginia Eye Consultants, we are pleased to offer a number of IOL options to our patients.
In traditional cataract surgery, a basic, single focus artificial lens is used to replace the cloudy lens of the eye. This lens effectively reverses the effects of cataracts, which means that any vision impairment from the cataracts will no longer impact the patient, but patients patients should expect to use prescription glasses for both distance and near vision after surgery. The cost of basic IOLs is covered by most medical insurance companies for cataract surgery.
For patients who wish to further improve their vision after cataract surgery, we offer a number of advanced IOL options. In addition to removing the blurring, distortion, and other symptoms of cataracts, these lenses can be used to correct refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and age-related loss of near vision (presbyopia). WIth the use of advanced IOLs during cataract surgery, our patients are able to reduce or even eliminate their dependence on eyeglasses and contacts.
Laser Cataract Surgery
At Virginia Eye Consultants, we are proud to be a leader in laser cataract surgery, eliminating the need for a surgical blade and offering our patients a more precise procedure and optimized results. With laser cataract surgery and advanced LifeStyle Lenses (IOLs), our surgeons are able to customize each patient’s procedure to meet his or her unique vision needs.
Real Patient Reviews
Anna Weaver had a visually significant cataract that we removed. She has a lot of issues with being able to lie flat on her back and still breathe, and she was concerned about being able to position for the surgery, but with some maneuvering we were able to do the surgery and one day post op she is seeing 20/25+1 compared with 20/150 preop. She says “the colors are brighter!”
– Anna W.*
Connie is a happy cataract patient one day after her procedure with Dr. Yeu and seeing 20/20 distance and near!
– Connie K.*
Jeffrey was -18 in his right eye and -16 in his left eye (very nearsighted!) and had astigmatism in both eyes. He had cataract surgery with Dr. Yeu and is extremely happy with the outcome!
– Jeffrey Z.*
Kate approached our team this morning as she was leaving and said she wanted to stop and say a huge Thank You for continually coming into the front reception room and talking to folks and doing it in a ‘fun’ way so as to keep folks smiling! She further said ‘This practice is fabulous and everyone is always smiling and so helpful. I drive from Camden, N. C. and enjoy my drive here knowing I have such wonderful staff and doctors taking care of me!’
Cataract Surgery: What to Expect
Preparing for Cataract Surgery
Preparing for cataract surgery begins with a thorough eye exam and diagnosis by an experienced ophthalmologist. If you and your surgeon feel you will benefit from cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will help you evaluate your IOL options and have you meet with one of our surgery schedulers. During this meeting, he or she will explain your options, schedule your surgery date, and go over pre- and postoperative care instructions.
The day before cataract surgery, you will be asked to use certain eye drops. You will also be asked to refrain from eating on the day of your procedure. You won’t be able to drive yourself home after cataract surgery, so you’ll need to make arrangements for transportation.
The Cataract Surgery Procedure
Cataract surgery is performed on one eye at a time, and the procedure only takes about 10 minutes to perform. You should plan on being at our practice for up to 3 hours on the day of your procedure, allowing time for admission, a brief consultation, anesthesia, surgery, and a brief recovery period.
Before beginning cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will use anesthetic eye drops to numb your eye. You may also be given an oral sedative to help you relax. A special device will be used to prevent you from blinking.
To begin the procedure, the surgeon will make a tiny incision in your cornea. Next, the cloudy lens of your eye will be removed and replaced with the intraocular lens (IOL) you and your eye doctor have selected. The incision for cataract surgery is so small that no sutures are needed.
Following cataract surgery, you will recover briefly in our Ambulatory Surgery Center before being driven home by a friend or family member.
Recovery After Cataract Surgery
There is no overnight stay required after cataract surgery. You will return home shortly after your procedure, and should experience little downtime.
Your eye may feel a bit sore for the first day or so after your cataract surgery, and you may experience a sensation of pressure. Your eye surgeon will prescribe anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops, and you will need to follow administration instructions carefully for five weeks after surgery.
Some patients do experience blurry vision immediately after cataract surgery, but this will naturally resolve quickly. Most of our patients are able to resume normal activities within 24 to 48 hours of cataract surgery, though you should wait at least two weeks before swimming or any strenuous exercise or activity. Your vision will improve rapidly after cataract surgery, and improvements will continue as your eye heals over the next few weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cataract Surgery
Can I prevent cataracts?
There is no way to prevent the development of cataracts or to slow their progression. Still, some eye doctors believe that taking the following steps to safeguard the health of your eyes may help:
- Undergo regular eye examinations
- Don’t smoke
- Address other health problems
- Eat a healthy diet
- Wear sunglasses
Will insurance cover my cataract surgery?
When cataracts progress to the point where clouding of the lens causes vision loss or impairment that impedes daily activities, cataract surgery is deemed medically necessary and is typically covered by medical insurance. Standard IOLs will eliminate the cloudiness caused by cataracts and are included in insurance coverage for cataract surgery, but patients may incur out-of-pocket costs if they decide to use advanced IOLs or laser technology.
Are some people at a higher risk for cataracts?
Cataracts are a natural part of the eye’s aging process and can impact anybody. In fact, up to one-half of Americans will have vision changes caused by at least one cataract by the time they reach age 75.2 Still, there are some risk factors that may put certain people at a higher risk for developing cataracts, such as:
- Excessive sunlight exposure
- Previous eye surgery
- High blood pressure
- Eye injury, inflammation
- Use of corticosteroid medications
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Contact Virginia Eye Consultants in Norfolk or Virginia Beach
If you have been diagnosed with cataract formation or have become aware of symptoms of cataracts impeding your ability to see clearly, it may be time for you to look into cataract surgery. At Virginia Eye Consultants, your eye health is our top priority. Our highly experienced staff relies on the very latest laser cataract surgery technology to deliver superior results. To learn more and schedule a consultation with an ophthalmologist, please contact us.
1 Mayo Clinic. Cataracts. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790. Accessed September 14, 2021.
2 National Eye Institute. Cataract Data and Statistics. Available: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/resources-for-health-educators/eye-health-data-and-statistics/cataract-data-and-statistics. Accessed September 14, 2021.