Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that focuses on the study, diagnosis, and treatment of eye diseases and disorders. An ophthalmologist has either a Doctor of Medicine degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, with specialty training in vision and eye care. In addition to performing eye exams, diagnosing and treating eye disease and prescribing medications and prescription lenses, ophthalmologists also perform eye surgery, including LASIK and cataract surgery.
In the following pages, you will find information about ophthalmology, including: common visual problems; vision disorders; eye diseases; nonsurgical and surgical treatment options; and best practices to protect or improve your eye health.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office for more information.
For most people, the lens of one or both eyes eventually gets cloudy, causing blurry vision. This condition is called a cataract. More than half of Americans develop cataracts or have had surgery to correct a cataract by the age of 80, according to the National Eye Institute. You might develop a cataract in one or both eyes, but it does not spread from one to the other.
Cataracts progress over time. If your vision is adequate, glasses or contact lenses might suffice to address your early-stage cataract and slightly impaired vision. However, if blurred vision is making you a dangerous driver, affecting your independence or compromising your ability to do the things you love, it might be time for cataract surgery.
Laser Cataract Surgery
The only way to correct the clouded vision caused by advanced cataracts is surgical intervention. If you find yourself pursuing cataract surgery to remove one or both cataract-disease lenses, you may be wondering what surgical approaches are available for treatment.
Although eye surgeons have successfully removed cataracts using manual surgical techniques for decades, new laser techniques give them more control over this delicate procedure.
The Laser Procedure
Both traditional and laser cataract surgery involve removing the natural cataractous lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. The traditional approach involves making a tiny incision in the eye with a manual surgical device. In laser cataract surgery, a femtosecond laser is used to make the incision instead. The ophthalmologist also uses a laser to break up the cataract-diseased lens before removing it, instead of using ultrasonic energy to perform this step. By replacing the manual steps in the procedure with the use of a laser, the ophthalmologist is able to provide an added level of precision during treatment and minimize any risks associated with the manual actions.
While human eyes are similar, each is slightly different in terms of depth, size and the curve of the cornea. Laser surgery techniques take advantage of advanced technology to precisely map your eyes. This information is then used to calibrate the laser used during some surgical procedures, allowing extremely precise treatment.
The laser’s precision speeds up both the surgery and the recovery time. Because the eye is less disturbed by the laser than with a mechanical blade, it may heal faster.
Laser cataract surgery is still new, and study results have varied. Some studies have found the results to be comparable to traditional cataract surgery. Others conclude the superiority of the laser. A study published in a 2014 issue of Optometry Times found that the vision of the group treated with lasers was overwhelmingly better. The endothelial cell count on the cornea was also healthier after laser versus traditional cataract surgery.
One drawback: The cost of laser cataract surgery is higher than the standard procedure. Talk to your insurance company to find out about your coverage level.
If you need cataract surgery and want to explore your treatment options, call us today so we can help.
With cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist removes the cataract-diseased lens of your eye. The ophthalmologist then replaces your natural lens with an artificial one.
This outpatient procedure is generally safe and takes less than an hour. Your ophthalmologist will dilate your pupil with eye drops and administer local anesthetic eye drops. You may also be prescribed a sedative to counter anxiety.
Once your eye surgeon has made a small, self-sealing incision in the eye, he or she performs a step called phacoemulsification. During this step of the procedure, the ophthalmologist inserts a thin probe into the cataractous lens and uses ultrasound waves to break it up, before suctioning out the pieces.
Once your eye surgeon removes your cataract, he or she implants an intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs come in a wide variety of materials and functions. Some help with both near and distant vision, similar to bifocals. Others block ultraviolet light. You and your doctor will discuss the best type for you.
If you need cataract surgery in both eyes, your doctor will likely recommend doing one at a time, with a healing period in between.
Usually, you can go home on the day of your surgery. However, you’ll need to arrange for somebody to drive you home from the surgical facility. You might also need help around the house, as your doctor may restrict bending and lifting for a few days.
Expect mild discomfort, light sensitivity, fluid discharge, and itching for a few days after surgery. For a short period of time after surgery, you may need to wear a patch or eye shield while sleeping or take medications that control eye pressure.
Your eye doctor will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress. Once healed, you’ll get a new prescription for eyeglasses, if necessary.
After surgery, some people develop a secondary cataract, also called posterior capsule opacification. Eye surgeons can usually treat a secondary cataract with a quick, painless outpatient procedure.
Cataracts are usually treated safely and successfully. However, risks — while uncommon — do exist. These include swelling, infection, inflammation, retinal detachment, glaucoma and loss of vision. People with serious medical conditions or other eye diseases are at increased risk of complications.
If you suspect you need cataract surgery, call us today to discuss your options.
If your vision is blurred due to cataracts and you are pursuing surgical intervention to correct the problem, you are likely considering which intraocular lens (IOL) to choose, to restore your vision after cataract surgery. There are a variety of IOL options to choose from. Your ophthalmologist can help you decide which is appropriate for you and your lifestyle.
IOLs used to be made of rigid plastic. Now, softer, foldable silicone and acrylic IOLs allow the eye surgeon to roll up an IOL and insert it through a smaller incision. Once inserted, the IOL opens up to full size. Many IOLs now include built-in protection from damaging ultraviolet rays.
The most popular type, monofocal IOLs allow eyes to focus at a single distance. This could be far, near or in between. Your most important activities dictate which distance you should choose. Readers and crafters might opt for clear near vision and wear glasses for distance vision. People who drive a lot or prefer TV to books can get an IOL for distance vision and wear glasses for close-up activities. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, you can choose the intermediate IOL, which focuses best at a distance of 18 to 36 inches. Most people get IOLs equipped for distance vision.
If you are getting cataract surgery in both eyes, you could choose monovision. With monovision, your ophthalmologist places an IOL in one eye that allows you see well close up while placing an IOL in the other eye that allows you to see objects in the distance. Over time, your eyes should adjust to monovision, allowing you see well at both distances. However, not everybody adjusts well to monovision, which compromises depth perception. If you’re considering this strategy, discuss it with your ophthalmologist. Your eye doctor can usually let you test out monovision using contact lenses in the office before your procedure.
Accommodating IOLs move, or flex, with the eye’s natural muscle movement, often allowing the patient to see well at multiple distances, instead of at a single distance as with mono-focal lenses.
Many people who get multifocal IOLs no longer need glasses for distance or close vision. This type of IOL is like bifocal eyeglasses, but it allows patients to see well at more than just two distances. Different areas of the IOL have different focusing power. However, some patients experience problems with night vision, glare and halos after getting multifocal IOLs.
Let us help you navigate the exciting but sometimes overwhelming world of IOLs. Call us today and we’ll work together to help you achieve your best possible vision.