When we are born, the lenses of our eyes, are usually perfectly clear. The lens of the eye is inside the eye behind the pupil. With age and sometimes from medications, radiation, or other factors, the lenses become cloudy. This process is usually very slow and may not be noticed until the vision is affected.
Most people first notice problems with their night driving. Lights at night have halos around them, street signs become difficult to read until the driver is close to them. The lines in the street may become hard to see. Eventually, driving during the day becomes a problem because of glare. Reading finally becomes more difficult. Because the decreased vision is caused by the clouding inside the eye, changing the eyeglasses prescription does not improve the vision.
To correct the vision, the cloudy lens must be removed surgically. There are no medications, eyedrops, vitamins, or diets that help. Contrary to what you may have heard, lasers cannot be used to remove cataracts.
Dr. Flavius Pernoud was the first surgeon in St. Louis to perform No-Stitch, No-Shot, No-Patch cataract surgery. In modern cataract surgery, the eye is anesthetized with powerful eyedrops. No shots are needed. The eyelids are gently held open with a special lid holder. A 3 millimeter (about 1/8 inch) incision is made in the wall of the eye. By using a special computer driven instrument called a phacoemulsifier, the lens is broken down and the pieces are removed. After the lens has been removed a small clear acrylic lens is implanted back into the eye where the original lens was positioned. The implant holds itself in place permanently and corrects the vision. The specially created tiny incision seals itself and stitches are not needed to close it.
Often, the vision is good enough that glasses are not needed all the time. Frequently, patients easily pass their driver's license test without glasses. Sometimes, only reading glasses are needed.
Multifocal implants, correcting both far and near vision are available and are very successful. Also, implants correcting astigmatism have been highly successful.
Cataract surgery is always done as an outpatient procedure these days. The surgery itself takes about 15 minutes. Patients are sent home without an eye patch and there are no restrictions on activities except they are not allowed to swim for 2 weeks. The vision stabilizes very quickly, and most patients can see well enough to drive the next day after surgery.
If you have been told you have cataracts or if you have noticed that your vision seems to be deteriorating, call our office (314-351-0101) for an appointment to examine your eyes and discuss your situation.