A cataract is the general term given to the clouding or loss of clarity of the natural lens inside your eye. A cataract can develop in one or both eyes. This can be a result of aging, trauma, or related to certain diseases or medications. Surgery is the only method to correct a cataract once it is affecting your vision.
Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis with the procedure typically over in less than an hour. It is performed in a surgical center generally under IV sedation, under what is commonly referred to as ‘twilight anesthesia’. You will not be unconscious and will only feel sleepy/comfortable during your procedure. You will be breathing on your own and are constantly monitored by an anesthesiologist. The most common method for removing a cataract is a procedure called phacoemulsification. Two very tiny incisions are made into the eye and an ultrasound probe is positioned behind your iris (the colored part of your eye). The ultrasound probe breaks up (emulsifies) your cataract into very small pieces. These small fragments are then suctioned out via the very small incisions that were made earlier. Once removed, a new intraocular lens (IOL) is put in place. You won’t be able to see or feel the IOL. In an uncomplicated procedure, the IOL will require no care and should last a lifetime.
Prior to surgery, your eyes will be individually measured to determine which power and type of IOL will best suit you and your needs. There are different IOL options for which you may be a candidate, and your doctor will discuss these with you. The standard lens type (monofocal) is covered by insurance. A monofocal lens corrects vision for either distance (TV, driving) OR near (reading, cooking). Eyeglasses may still be needed at times for optimal vision.
Premium Intraocular Lenses
Premium IOLs come with more advanced features than a standard IOL. These options include:
- Toric: this lens is considered if you have a significant amount of astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea).
- Bifocal: this lens makes it possible for patients to see both distance and near without eyeglasses.
- Trifocal: this lens makes it possible for patients to see near, intermediate, and distance without eyeglasses.
- Extended Depth of Focus (EDOF): this lens creates a single elongated focal point and provides an uninterrupted range of vision.
The cost of premium IOLs is not covered by insurance. See Patient Resources for more information.