Studies have shown that over 24 million people aged 40 and up in the United States suffer from cataracts. Cataracts occur when the natural lens inside the eye becomes thickened, less transparent, and more rigid. This can cause cloudy vision, often compared to looking through a frosty or fogged-up window, and may make reading, driving, or seeing facial expressions difficult.
Until recently, standard cataract removal surgery was the only option to get rid of cataracts and restore a patient’s vision. For patients who suffered from refractive errors alongside cataracts, this procedure often required that patients wear prescription glasses after the surgery. Now, though, there is an alternative option to simultaneously eliminate cataracts and correct refractive errors. This alternative is refractive cataract surgery.
What are refractive errors?
A refractive error in the eye occurs when the light does not properly focus on the retina. Some examples include nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism, and presbyopia. When there is no cataract present, refractive treatments such as LASIK and ICL eye surgery can help to restore vision.
If a person has both refractive error and cataracts and decides to undergo standard cataract surgery, they should expect to need glasses or cataracts after surgery. However, refractive cataract surgery offers another option. With refractive cataract surgery, patients can expect to have any clear vision without the need for glasses or contacts.
What is refractive cataract surgery?
The procedure is similar to standard cataract removal surgery in that the cataract lens is removed from the eye and replaced with an Intraocular lens implant, but the difference lies in the way that refractive cataract surgery uses advanced laser and lens technology to eliminate the need for glasses post-surgery.
One of the available options for reflective cataract surgery is LenSx® Laser Cataract Surgery, a “bladeless surgery”. While standard cataract surgery involves the use of a surgical blade to perform various incisions through the cornea and inside the eye, the LenSx® femtosecond laser performs these incisions more precisely, ultimately improving healing times and final outcomes for patients.
Another option is Multifocal IOLs, the most technologically advanced intraocular lens implant used in cataract surgery. These lenses provide clear distance, intermediate, and reading vision without having to wear any type of glasses or contacts afterwards. These implants can be placed at the time of cataract surgery or prior to the development of cataracts with a refractive lens exchange surgery.
Who is eligible?
If you are interested in refractive cataract surgery, there are some basic criteria that must be met to be eligible. Besides needing to have cataracts, you must have some reliance on glasses or contacts to see clearly. An assessment from an ophthalmologist to determine your eligibility for refractive cataract surgery is also necessary. Your eye surgeon may recommend that you pursue standard cataract surgery instead because not every patient is a candidate for refractive cataract surgery.
What to expect:
Refractive cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that has an extremely high success rate. The latest technology of lasers and intraocular lens implants are used to give patients clear vision without the need for glasses or contacts. It is a painless procedure performed under conscious sedation with minimal recovery time. After the surgery, you may experience some mild discomfort or irritation in your eye. The vision should be clear within a week of surgery.
If refractive cataract surgery sounds like right for you, next up is finding a qualified ophthalmologist. Dr. Salisbury is a cornea and refractive specialist who performs cataract surgery, LASIK, PRK, ICL, corneal transplants including PKP, DSAEK, DMEK, and DALK, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.
Reach out today to find out if you feel like you could be a candidate for refractive cataract surgery!