Inside the human eye, there sits a naturally clear lens, which is designed to focus light onto the back of the eye. However, with increasing age, this lens becomes thicker, stiffer, and cloudier. We call this dysfunctional lens a “cataract.” Cataracts are the most common of visual loss in adults older than 50, although they may also occur in much younger adults (even, rarely, in children).
What causes cataracts?
Many things can cause cataracts (in other words, can cause the human lens to become cloudy or dysfunctional). Age is the most common culprit, but trauma, infection, diabetes, radiation, and certain medications may also trigger cataract formation.
How are cataracts treated?
Once the lens of the eye becomes dysfunctional, the only treatment is to remove it, and to replace it with an artificial lens. This procedure is commonly known as “cataract surgery,” and is one of the safest and most commonly performed operation in the United States.
What is involved in cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is normally a 5-10 minute, painless, procedure. It involves making a small incision in the eye, breaking the dysfunctional lens into pieces, removing those pieces, and finally installing a new (clear) artificial lens.
Tell me about these artificial lenses.
A variety of different lens options are available for implantation. At your surgical consultation, your doctor will describe the relative advantages of each, so you can make an informed choice about what you’d like for your eye.
Broadly speaking, there are monofocal lenses (which focus light either in the distance, or up close, but not both) and multifocal lenses (which focus light both in the distance and up close). Monofocal lenses typically provide better quality vision, whereas multifocal lenses generally offer better range of vision. Put another way, monofocal lenses often offer the best possible vision, while multifocal lenses provide the greatest freedom from glasses.
There are also specialty lenses which don’t fall neatly into the category of monofocal or multifocal (for example, extended depth of focus lenses and pinhole aperture lenses) which may be selectively appropriate for some patients.
Where will my surgery be performed?
For the vast majority of patients, the best possible surgical results are achieved within the procedural wing of our Birmingham clinic. This facility is custom-bult with equipment and technology available nowhere else in the country, specifically designed for microinvasive ophthalmic procedures.
Rarely, patients may be unable to have surgery within our procedural space, and if so, a local hospital may be used, instead.