Cataract Treatment & Surgery
Cataract is a treatable condition that is the leading cause of blindness in the world and the primary cause of vision loss in people 40 years old and over. Dr. Sam Cohlmia, M.D. is a Wichita ophthalmologist & eye surgeon specializing in cataract treatment, surgery, testing and diagnosis.
What is a Cataract?
Our eyes have a natural lens inside them which helps us see by refracting, or bending, rays of light. This lens should be clear so light can pass through it. A cataract is a cloudy lens of the eye. There are three main types of cataract:
Subcapsular cataracts form at the back of the lens. People who take high doses of corticosteroids or who have diabetes have an increased risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
Nuclear cataracts form in the nucleus (center) of the eye’s lens. This type of cataract typically develops as a result of the natural aging process.
Cortical cataracts form in the cortex or periphery of the lens. It’s recognizable through the white spoke-like areas of opacity that start at the edge of the lens and work their way toward the center.
Common symptoms of a cataract include vision changes such as:
- Blurry vision
- Glare or halos from bright light at night
- Double vision in one eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Colors may appear dull or yellow
- Needing additional light for reading
What Causes Cataracts?
The most common cause of cataracts is increasing age. Normal eye changes that start around age 40 cause proteins in the lens to break down. It’s this breakdown that causes a cloudy lens. Typically, people over the age of 60 will begin to have some lens clouding, but their vision may not be affected for years.
Other cataract risk factors include:
- Family history
- Diabetes and certain other medical conditions
- Previous eye surgery or eye injury
- Radiation treatment to the upper body
- Sun exposure, especially without sunglasses to block UV rays
- Use of some medications, like corticosteroids
Age-related cataracts usually develop gradually, while those with other causes may develop faster. Eye doctors and ophthalmologists are unable to predict how rapidly a cataract will develop.
In some cases, children can also develop cataracts. Pediatric cataracts are usually caused by genetics, eye injuries, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, or sometimes the cause is unknown. They can be present at birth or (congenital) or develop afterward (acquired).
Slow Your Cataract Development
The best way to slow the development of cataracts in your eyes is to always wear glasses or sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.
Cataract Testing & Diagnosis
Cataracts are diagnosed by an ophthalmologist like Dr. Cohlmia during a comprehensive eye exam. Eye drops will be given to widen your pupils during the examination and testing:
Slit lamp Exam
Your ophthalmologist will use a special microscope with a light attached to see the structures inside your eye. A narrow band of bright light will be focused on your eye. This painless light won’t damage the eye, but it will make it easier to examine the iris, cornea and lens of your eye.
During the exam, the doctor will use an ophthalmoscope and/or the slit lamp to check for signs of cataract and glaucoma, as well as examining the optic nerve and the retina.
Visional Acuity and Refraction Test
Your eyes will both be tested individually to determine each eye’s vision clarity and sharpness. This is the standard eye exam you may have performed at previous eye doctor visits, which includes reading a letter chart.
What To Do If You Have A Cataract
- Get an annual comprehensive eye exam if you’re over age 65
- If you’re under age 65, get a comprehensive eye exam every two years
- When in the sun, wear a hat and sunglasses that block 99% UV or more
- Quit smoking
- Use a bright light and/or a magnifying glass for reading and close-up work
- Avoid night-time driving if you have glare, halos or other night vision problems
- Manage other health conditions, such as diabetes
- Ensure your vision is corrected with contact lenses or eyeglasses
- When your cataract interferes with your daily activities, it may be time for surgery
Cataract Treatment & Surgery
Cataracts can only be treated with cataract removal surgery. Medications or eyedrops are not an option.
Cataract surgery is a very quick and easy 5-minute procedure that entails removing the cloudy natural lens of the eye and then replacing it with a synthetic plastic intraocular lens implant (IOL). Artificial lenses never need to be changed, and if the cataract surgery was performed correctly, cataracts do not recur. Dr. Cohlmia’s cataract surgery is 99% successful with minimal complications.
Intraocular Lens Implants
The ReSTOR multifocal intraocular lens (IOL) can correct vision for patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Dr. Cohlmia will implant a ReSTOR lens with the correct power during cataract surgery or refractive surgery so patients will be glasses-free afterward. This revolutionary lens implant has been used at Cohlmia Eye Center since its FDA approval on cataract surgery patients as well as RLE (refractive lens exchange) patients.
Another artificial lens option is the AcrySof® Natural intraocular lens implant. This acrylic lens is manufactured by Alcon and received FDA approval for surgical use in 2003. Unlike other intraocular lenses, the AcrySof® Natural lens block harmful ultraviolet and blue light from damaging the retina. Blue light, like the light from computer, tablet, smartphone and TV screens, has been shown to cause progressive damage to the retina and further macular degeneration.
This lens is implanted at the same time the natural lens of the eye is removed during cataract surgery. It is safe to implant and causes no distortion of color. In fact, the AcrySof® Natural intraocular lens implant enhances contrast sensitivity and decreases glare and halos at night. This intraocular lens is used exclusively at Cohlmia Eye Center.
Post-Cataract Laser Eye Surgery
In some cases, a patient’s vision can become hazy again months or years after the original cataract operation. This is typically a result of the posterior capsule, where the intraocular lens implant is located, becoming cloudy. If this happens, Dr. Cohlmia can perform a capsulotomy, a procedure in which a laser is used to open the capsule and clear the cloudiness and your vision.
Cataract Surgery Recovery
Most patients have clear vision within 24 to 48 hours after cataract surgery. This will vary depending on their overall health and how fast their eyes heal. Patients are advised not to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds for about 7 to 10 days after surgery to avoid straining the eyes. Those with a physical job that involves a lot of lifting may need to take the entire 10 days off of work, but someone with a desk job or light-duty work could return a few days after surgery.
You don’t have to live with blurry vision from cataracts. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Cohlmia online or at 316-264-8932 for cataract treatment, diagnosis and surgery.