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Cataract surgery is the most common surgery done on patients over the age 65. It has been highly refined over the years and is truly one of the marvels of modern medicine. Dr. Hendricks and Dr. David perform cataract procedures at both Heart of America Surgery Center and Providence Medical Center.

What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear crystalline lens of the eye. Cataracts are very common, especially in older patients, but they can occur in any age group. Cataracts can cause a number of symptoms:

  • Blurred distance vision
  • Blurred near vision
  • Glare at night
  • Decreased color discrimination
  • Blindness, in advanced stages

Lens Implants

When a cataract is removed it is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant. It is a standard and necessary procedure so the patient has natural vision after cataract surgery. Lens implants also make it possible for the patient to be less dependent on glasses after surgery than they were before surgery.

Premium (Upgraded) Implants

There are special implants available at extra cost that will be discussed with the patient if they are a candidate and if they are interested:

  • Multifocal Implants — these attempt to give both distance and near vision for patients who want less dependence on glasses
  • Toric Implants — these are for correcting high degrees of astigmatism

When should Cataracts be Removed?

Cataracts can be removed when they are determined to be a significant factor in preventing the patient from having optimal vision. Our doctors will help the patient in making this decision after a thorough eye exam. Cataracts do NOT have to be “ripe” or “mature” in order for them to be removed.

Cataract Surgery Experience

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. The actual surgery generally takes only about 15 minutes although the patient will be at the facility for a total of about two hours. We mainly use topical anesthesia (numbing eye drops) which means there will be no needles involved with the surgery. We give a short acting Valium-like medication orally to help the patient relax.

In the operating room the patient is positioned as if in a fully reclined Lazy-Boy chair and an eyelid speculum placed to hold the eyelids open. The patient is then instructed to look directly at the microscope light above the eye that the surgeon is using to perform the procedure. The vast majority of patients have no trouble at all doing this. When the procedure is complete a simple plastic eye shield is placed over the eye without an eye patch.

After Cataract Surgery

The patient will spend about 15 minutes in the recovery area and will be given eye drop instructions and an appointment for a checkup in the office the next day. The eye shield is worn until the next morning and then when sleeping for 2-3 nights. Eye drops will be used for 2-3 weeks and will vary depending on each patient’s needs. We encourage patients to return to normal activity as soon as possible but take care not to rub or injure the eye. If necessary, new glasses can be prescribed as soon as three days after cataract surgery.

Success Rate and Risks

Cataract surgery is one of the most successful procedures performed. It has an extremely low complication rate and severe vision threatening problems are rare. However, just like any surgical procedure, the risks have to be weighed against the benefits and our doctors will help the patient make this decision. A full informed consent will be given as part of the preoperative workup.