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Cataract Surgery Assessments

Cataract Surgery Assessments By The Leading Calgary and Panorama Hills Optometrists

Man in living room reading newspaper smilingCataracts is a disease of the eye that results in the clouding of the lens of the eyeball. Cataracts prevent clear images from appearing on the eye’s retina; causing mild, moderate, even severe blurred vision.

Typically an eye disorder associated with aging (over half of the people in America over age 80 have either had a cataract or cataract surgery), cataracts generally occur later in life as the lens structure within the human eye changes and gets older.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is the removal of the natural lens of the eye (also called “crystalline lens”) that has developed an opacification, which is referred to as a cataract. Metabolic changes of the crystalline lens fibers over the time lead to the development of the cataract and loss of transparency, causing impairment or loss of vision. During cataract surgery, a patient’s cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic lens to restore the lens’s transparency.

Following surgical removal of the natural lens, an artificial intraocular lens implant is inserted (eye surgeons say that the lens is “implanted”). Cataract surgery is generally performed by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in an ambulatory (rather than inpatient) setting, in a surgical center or hospital, using local anesthesia (either topical, peribulbar, or retrobulbar), usually causing little or no discomfort to the patient.

Well over 90% of operations are successful in restoring useful vision, with a low complication rate. Day care, high volume, minimally invasive, small incision phacoemulsification with quick post-op recovery has become the standard of care in cataract surgery all over the world.

When is it Time for Cataract Surgery?

The development of cataract is generally a slow, gradual process in the ageing process. If you live long enough, guaranteed your skin wrinkles, your blood pressure increases, and you will develop a cataract. When you and your eye doctor have an assessment, there are several factors that help decide when is the right time for cataract surgery.

Here are some of the factors that can aid your decision on whether your cataracts just need a glasses update or if cataract surgery is the better choice.

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding or opacity in the natural lens inside your eye. It is not a growth or film over the front of the eye. It can be caused by the ageing process, but other causes include eye injury, certain diseases of the eyes and body (e.g. diabetes), certain medications (e.g. steroids) or a person can be born with a cataract.

Cataracts affect your eyesight by increasing blurriness as well as increasing light sensitivity. You may notice haloes around lights especially when driving at night, or fluorescent lights and glare from digital screens bother you more than they used to.

There are different types of cataracts, and they can affect your vision in different ways. Nuclear sclerosis is one type of cataract in which the lens becomes more yellow then brown in severe cases.

This type of cataract increases myopia, causing rapid changes in glasses prescription.

Other common forms are cortical cataracts and posterior subcapsular cataracts, which increases glare and light sensitivity.

At some point, a person’s vision is still too blurry even after an update in the glasses prescription. The cataract causes loss of visual acuity, as well as loss of visual function due to “everything appearing hazy or cloudy”.

Contrast sensitivity is reduced and this causes visual impairment for daily activities. A person who works as a driver may quite his job due to problems driving at dusk or at night due to glare from the cataract.

When visual acuity drops below a given specified standard for driving, surgery is recommended even if the patient does not complain about his or her vision. Cataract surgery has been determined to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle accidents.

Modern cataract surgery has increased the chances of vision improvement and reduced the risk of complications and vision loss due to surgery.

However surgical risks still exist, especially if a person has health complications or eye disease that can prevent the normal healing process needed to recover from surgery.

It is best to consult your optometrist to find out what is happening in your individual case to determine next steps.

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The more you know about cataracts, the better prepared you will be to deal with them – or help prevent them in the first place!


Your Calgary AB optometrists at Foresight Eyecare will check for signs of glaucoma as part of your comprehensive eye exam.