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Cataracts

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is simply a clouding of the lens usually brought on by age. In order to see something, light rays pass through the pupil and focus through the lens onto the retina (a layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye.) The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear. Aging can cause some of the protein to clump together and start to cloud a portion of the lens.

Vision Problems With Cataracts

A cataract is one of the most common causes of vision loss and develops gradually. If you notice your sight becoming blurry or not as bright and colorful as before, schedule an appointment with your Eye MD.

Vision With Cataracts

Performing a complete eye exam is the only way your ophthalmologist can determine if your vision loss is a cataract or another problem. There are no medications or drops that will remove the cataract, but it can be easily treated with surgery. It’s not always necessary to remove the cataract immediately as long as it is not affecting your lifestyle. Changing your eyeglass prescription may be enough for the present. It is imperative your ophthalmologist monitor your vision regularly for changes.

When a cataract becomes bothersome and interferes with your daily activities, it may be time to consider surgery. During the procedure, the eye’s cloudy lens will be removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens implant called an intraocular lens or IOL. Your ophthalmologist can discuss the surgery with you and answer any of your questions.


Eye CataractCataract Symptom Progression

Age-related cataract generally develop gradually, so you may not notice any changes in your sight at first.·   Painless cloudy, blurry or dim vision.

  • More difficulty seeing at night or in low light
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Faded or yellowed colors
  • The need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Double vision within one eye

To determine if cataracts are the problem, you must have a dilated eye exam (where your pupil is widened with eye drops.) The test allows your ophthalmologist a clear look at your eye’s lens to detect early signs of cataract development.

It’s important to get a baseline exam at age 40 when early signs of disease and vision changes may develop. Your ophthalmologist will let you know how often you should return for an exam. At any point, if you have symptoms, see your Eye M.D. Risk for cataract and other eye diseases increase with age. Since early detection and treatment of cataracts is critical to preserving sight, you should see your ophthalmologist once a year beginning at age 65.


Cataract Diagnosis

During a dilated eye exam, the doctor will examine and test your eyes to determine if a diagnosis is needed.

Slit-Lamp Exam

Slit Lamp CataractsIn this exam, your ophthalmologist will be able to find any abnormalities by viewing your eye in small detailed sections The test will include examining the eye’s cornea, iris, lens and space between the iris and cornea. (See How the Eye Sees video above).

Retinal Exam

Your Eye M.D. will examine the back of your eyes while they are dilated. Using a slit lamp and/or an ophthalmoscope, he will look for signs of cataract, glaucoma and other potential problems with the retina and optic nerve.

Refraction And Visual Acuity Test

This test assesses the sharpness and clarity of your vision. Each eye is tested individually for the ability to see letters of varying sizes.

Once I Have A Cataract Diagnosis, What Should I Do?

  • If you’re over 65, have an eye exam every year. If younger than 65, every two years.
  • Your eyes should be protected from UV light by wearing sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV and wear a hat.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking is a key risk factor for cataracts.
  • Use brighter lights for reading and other activities; using a magnifying glass my help as well.
  • Limit driving at night once night vision, halos or glare become problems
  • Take care of health problems, especially diabetes.
  • Make sure you have the right eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct your vision. When it becomes too difficult to complete your regular activities, consider cataract surgery
  • Discussing cataract surgery with your ophthalmologist will help you make your decision. The information will include the surgical procedure, preparation before and recovery after
    surgery, the benefits and possible complications of the surgery, surgery costs, and any other information you require.
  • Do not use eye drops or other treatments that claim to dissolve cataracts. The only proven way to deal with cataracts if to surgically remove them.Cataract Surgery FAQs

Cataract Surgery FAQs

IS CATARACT SURGERY AN INPATIENT PROCEDURE?
IS CATARACT SURGERY AN INPATIENT PROCEDURE?
No, it’s typically an outpatient procedure. You will be there for about 2-3 hours total but the actual procedure takes less than 15minutes.
AM I ASLEEP WHILE YOU ARE TAKING OUT THE CATARACT?
AM I ASLEEP WHILE YOU ARE TAKING OUT THE CATARACT?
It’s twilight sleep, where you receive intravenous sedation but you do not have general anesthesia. With general anesthesia, a tube is placed to control your breathing and administer anesthetic gas, and the recovery is longer. With cataract surgery, topical anesthetic is placed before we start, and additional medication is placed in the eye, while the sedation drugs go in through the IV. It is similar to the medication used in a colonoscopy.
DOES MY INSURANCE COVER THE SURGERY?
DOES MY INSURANCE COVER THE SURGERY?
Generally, yes. With so many different policies, our billing coordinator will speak with you on the day you schedule your appointment so you will know what your out of pocket expenses will be. Medicare covers the hospital portion and 80% of the allowable fee for the surgeon, as well as 80% of the allowable costs for the anesthesia professional. Some new technology lens implants are associated with extra costs. If the new lenses are appropriate for you, we will thoroughly discuss the cost and benefit with you. Insurance can be confusing, but we’ll walk you through it.
IS MY EYE ACTUALLY TAKEN OUT TO OPERATE ON IT?
IS MY EYE ACTUALLY TAKEN OUT TO OPERATE ON IT?
No, an eyelid retractor is used to create enough exposure to get at the cataract. Don’t worry, you won’t feel it. Once the retractor is removed you’ll be able to blink normally since we don’t use injections around the eye or lids.
DO I HAVE TO STOP MY BLOOD THINNER BEFORE SURGERY?.
DO I HAVE TO STOP MY BLOOD THINNER BEFORE SURGERY?
Because there are no injections around the eye, and no incisions through tissues that contain blood vessels, cataract surgery with topical numbing agents and IV sedation is bloodless. There is no need to stop your blood thinners, even warfarin (Coumadin). We have done hundreds of cases for people on all kinds of blood thinners (anticoagulatives), and it is not a problem.
DO I NEED TO TAKE ANTIBIOTICS BY MOUTH BEFORE THE SURGERY?.
DO I NEED TO TAKE ANTIBIOTICS BY MOUTH BEFORE THE SURGERY?
Cataract surgery is considered “clean” surgery by the infectious disease specialists and prophylactic antibiotics are not considered necessary.
DO I NEED A DRIVER?
DO I NEED A DRIVER?
Yes. You should not drive for 24 hours after your surgery and this includes the day of surgery.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS ON ACTIVITY AFTER CATARACT SURGERY?
WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS ON ACTIVITY AFTER CATARACT SURGERY?
There are few limitations. On the day of your surgery, you should not drive. Also, do not swim for at least two weeks after surgery. We recommend limiting bending at the waist and lifting objects greater than 10lbs for one week. We also recommend that you shield the operated eye for three days after surgery when sleeping.
WILL MY EYE HURT?
WILL MY EYE HURT?
Most people have no pain and very little light sensitivity. In some cases, patients have noted some mild discomfort, often describing it as “something in my eye”. However, most people usually don’t take anything for it. The morning after surgery, most people are very comfortable. We typically don’t prescribe pain medication after surgery because in our experience, most people don’t experience major discomfort that would require medication.
WHAT ABOUT CHANGING MY GLASSES?
WHAT ABOUT CHANGING MY GLASSES?
Your current glasses prescription will no longer be accurate after the surgery. If needed, we will have our opticians temporarily remove the lens from your current glasses on the surgery side. Medicare will cover a large portion of the frames and lenses after each eye surgery. We will update your glasses a few weeks after surgery.
HOW SOON WILL I SEE BETTER?
HOW SOON WILL I SEE BETTER?
Colors and contrast are noticeably better by the morning after surgery. You should continue to see improvement over the next couple days.
HOW SOON CAN I SHOWER?
HOW SOON CAN I SHOWER?
We recommend avoiding showering until we see you for the one-day post-op visit. After that appointment, you can shower.
WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Risk of infection, (currently estimated at 1:3000 to 1:8000 cases) while it is highly unlikely to occur, can cause vision loss. Therefore, prevention is key. We guard against infection by: asking you to use a disinfectant eye scrub three days before surgery; use an antibiotic eye drop one day before and for 10 days after surgery; not rubbing the eye. We also use standard solution of povidone-iodine prep in the operating room (OR) before your surgery, both in and around the eye. At the end of surgery, an antibiotic solution is placed within the eye itself. Our track record for avoiding infection and that of our ORs is outstanding. The most common sight-threatening complication is retinal detachment, 1.5% of cases overall but more common in younger patients, nearsighted patients (longer eyes), and males. Retinal detachment might require additional surgery for repair.

Location

6 Office Park Dr.
Jacksonville, NC 28546
Business Hours
Monday–Friday:  8:00am–4:30pm
Optical Department
Monday–Friday:  9:00am–4:30pm