I Have Cataracts! When Is It Time to Consider Surgery?

Do you have cataracts? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cataracts are the world’s leading cause of age-related vision loss, affecting more than 24 million Americans over 40. Below, we explain what cataracts are, when cataract surgery is necessary, and what this procedure typically involves. We also discuss femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery and explore the benefits of this procedure over other types of cataract surgery.

What Is a Cataract?

A cataract develops when an eyeball’s lens—located behind the colored portion of the eye (the iris)—becomes clouded. This can cause someone’s vision to become blurry and/or dim, especially at night. Other symptoms of cataracts may include:

  • Becoming increasingly sensitive to light and glare
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Finding colors to be faded or yellowed
  • Experiencing double vision in one eye

Many individuals with cataracts find they need to change the prescription for their eyeglasses or contact lenses more frequently than usual.

Cataracts are most often caused by age-related changes. As we grow older, our lenses thicken and become more rigid. Other risk factors for cataract development include family history/genetic predisposition, associated health conditions such as diabetes, eye injuries, previous eye surgeries, and long-term steroid use. Smoking and drinking alcohol in excess can also increase one’s risk of developing cataracts.

When Is Cataract Surgery Necessary?

Many cataract patients are curious about how long cataract surgery can be postponed. Cataracts typically develop gradually, and many people don’t experience any vision impairment until their condition has progressed past the early stages. Even after cataracts start interfering with vision, many individuals can manage their disease by wearing prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses and using a brighter light when reading and performing other activities.

However, if conservative treatment methods are unsatisfactory and cataracts have begun to disrupt your routine, then you may be a candidate for cataract surgery. An experienced ophthalmologist can recommend the treatment approach that’s best suited to your specific circumstances.

What Does Cataract Surgery Involve?

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure typically performed one eye at a time under topical anesthesia with eye drops and light sedation. During the surgery, the surgeon removes the natural lens via a small incision and replaces it with an artificial lens specifically chosen for the patient.

 

What Is Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery?

As its name suggests, femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS) uses laser technology to automate and enhance portions of the cataract procedure. The laser is programmed to make precise incisions in the cornea and the lens, which offers several benefits over traditional cataract surgery, including:

  • Precise size and centration of the initial opening into the lens help to ensure the ideal positioning of the artificial intraocular lens, improving visual outcomes.
  • Reduction in the ultrasonic energy required to remove the cataract, speeding up the healing time following surgery.
  • Improved predictability of the surgical procedure, especially in more challenging cases such as dense cataracts or those having undergone prior surgery or trauma.
  • Correction of mild to moderate astigmatism reducing the need for glasses for some, if not all, activities following surgery.

The Local Physician to Choose for Cataract Surgery

If you have cataracts and would like to discuss your treatment options, please contact us at Florida Medical Clinic Eye Specialists to schedule a comprehensive consultation at our office in North Tampa. We offer multiple surgical options for our patients, including femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery with advanced technology intraocular lens implantation. We are proud to be the premier choice for cataract care in our area and look forward to helping you to achieve your finest vision.

About Mark L. Arey, MD

Dr. Arey is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in comprehensive ophthalmology and premium cataract surgery utilizing femtosecond laser and advanced technology intraocular lenses. Additionally, Dr. Arey manages conditions such as glaucoma and dry eye syndrome and screens for retinal diseases, including diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

A Central Florida native, Dr. Arey has been practicing in North Tampa since 2008. In 2018 he established Florida Medical Clinic Eye Specialists to provide an optimized patient experience incorporating new and emerging technologies in eye care and ophthalmic surgery.

Dr. Arey was once again honored by Tampa Magazine as a 2022 “Top Doc” in their annual survey of physicians.

Picture of the Tampa Magazine Top Docs 2022 award.

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Ophthalmology

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