Cataract Surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States. Each year millions of individuals undergo surgery and are amazed by the improved quality of their vision as well as the rapid recovery time. At Silk Vision and Surgery Center in Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington and Manassas, we take great pride at providing the latest surgical advances in cataract surgery. We also make sure that each patient is comfortable from the beginning of their initial consultation to the completion of their visual recovery.
Understanding The Eye
In order to understand more about cataracts and lens implants, it is important to first begin by understanding how your eye works. In the normal eye there are two structures that are mainly responsible for refracting, or bending light so that it focuses properly on the retina. The first structure is the outermost layer called the cornea. The second is the crystalline lens, which is located behind the colored part of the eye, or the iris. Both the cornea and the lens must be perfectly clear if your vision is to be crisp and clear. While the cornea maintains its clarity throughout life the lens may undergo a number of changes as you age.
As the lens loses it flexibility, it also begins to lose its transparency. As you progress through your 50’s and 60’s, the normally crystal clear lens gradually becomes yellow and cloudy. As the lens loses its transparency and its optical clarity, it may begin to impair your ability to see well in dim illumination, such as for night driving. The cloudiness may also create glare, light sensitivity or an overall decrease in your vision. If parts of the lens become too cloudy they may cause a significant decrease in both your day and night vision. The cloudy, yellowed lens is called cataract.
Cataract surgery today is safe, effective and quite common. In fact, if you have been told that you have a cataract, you are definitely not alone. Each year in the United States, more than 2.5 million people have cataract surgery.
Thanks to advanced cataract surgical procedures and lens implant technology, cataract surgery is not only one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States, but it is also one of the safest and most successful surgical procedures that you can have. Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and usually only requires a few hours of your time from beginning to end.
How is Cataract Surgery Performed?
Cataract surgery today is quite comfortable. First, the procedure will begin with your eye being treated with an anesthetic so that you will feel little if anything during your surgery and minimal if any discomfort. Your eye surgeon operates while looking through a highly specialized microscope, designed exclusively for this purpose. A very small incision, less than 3 cm, is made at the edge of the cornea.
Through the tiny incision, the cloudy lens is gently fragmented using high-frequency sound waves, and these fragments are suctioned out of the eye. This process is called phacoemulsification. The posterior capsule, an elastic bag-like membrane that held the lens, is left in place. Once all the minuscule bits of the cataract have been removed, a tiny new clear implant lens is folded, inserted through the small incision, and allowed to open up inside the posterior capsule.
The surgery typically takes 20-30 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis. This means that you will have the surgery and then go home, usually around 30 minutes afterward. Most of the time only local anesthesia is used, so you will be awake for the entire process. After the surgery, you are taken to the recovery room and then released. You will need someone to drive you home.
One of the earliest changes that you will experience occurs when the lens loses its flexibility. Up until the age of approximately 40, the lens is crystal clear, quite soft, and flexible. This flexibility permits the lens to change its shape and alter its curvature so that it can help focus your vision at various distances from far, to near, to arm’s length, to far or near again. Having this flexibility allows the ability to see things at all distances. Around the time we enter our 40’s, the lens begins to stiffen, which makes it progressively more difficult to change focus and see clearly at all distances. Usually, this lessens our ability to easily see objects at arm’s length or close objects or reading material. When this loss of flexibility occurs, it is called presbyopia.
At Silk Vision and Surgical Center, we have a variety of Premium Lens Implant options for after cataract surgery and options that help to correct presbyopia. For more information about our intraocular lens implant options, click here.
If you are in need of a cataract surgeon contact Silk Vision at any of our locations in Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington or Manassas to schedule a consultation