Mar
22
2007

Clearing cataracts: New surgery is easy, effective

Seeing clearly: A new, quick surgery for cataracts in the eye is highly effective. After the installation of an artificial eye lens, most patient have near normal vision in their eye by the next day.
Seeing clearly: A new, quick surgery for cataracts in the eye is highly effective. After the installation of an artificial eye lens, most patient have near normal vision in their eye by the next day.
Cataract surgery on the eyes used to be a daunting experience. It was risky, painful and impacted a lot of older people, who might be susceptible to other complications. Afterwards, patients would be stuck having to wear large, clunky coke-bottle glasses.

But just as joint replacements are becoming simpler, every-day surgeries, cataract removal has also been greatly simplified in recent years. New York Times columnist Jane Brody recently related the life-changing experience such surgery was for her husband.

The new procedure that he went through took less than two hours and was done as an outpatient operation. The bad lens in his eye, which had become clouded through the impact of the cataract, was removed and replaced with an artificial lens. By the next morning, his vision had improved to 20/25 from the 20/200 it had been before the operation. (Regular vision is considered 20/20.)

For him, distance vision was the issue. Different types of artificial lens can be installed to help with different vision problems. There are even multifocal lens and that can help with both distance and near vision issues at the same time.

What do you need to know about cataracts today?

They often are part of the aging process. Cells in the lens of the eye die and get trapped inside that lens, clouding vision. By age 80, more than half of Americans have a cataract in at least one of their eyes.

Factors that can lead to cataracts include unprotected exposure of your eyes to the sun, smoking, drinking alcohol, diabetes and prolonged use of steroids. Cataracts can also develop years after an injury to the eye or surgery

Those ages 60 and older should have a complete eye exam at least every-other year and more often if a problem is found. Those exams are also good for tracking down other eye problems like glaucoma or macular degeneration.

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