Is your vision getting blurry? Do you have an increased sensitivity to glare? Do you feel there is a film over your eye? You may be developing cataracts. Over 22 million people over the age of 40 have cataracts, and this number is expected to swell to over 30 million by the year 2020.
While the thought of losing your vision can be scary, Maehara Eye Surgery & Laser provides cataract surgery to the Honolulu and Waipahu areas. At Maehara Eye Surgery & Laser, we have vast experience with cataract surgery, removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). We want to help you restore your vision.
What are Cataracts?
A cataract is a dense, cloudy area that forms in eye’s natural lens, the transparent film that focuses the images as seen by the eye on the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. A cataract begins when proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina. A cataract develops slowly, usually unbeknownst to the patient. When these clumps enlarge they begin to interfere with vision by distorting the passage of light through the lens. A person can develop cataracts in both eyes, but they usually don’t form at the same time or progress at the same rate.
Is there a cure for cataracts?
The only “cure” is the surgical removal of the clouded lens, replacing it with a crystal-clear intraocular lens. Once the natural lens has become clouded, this is a permanent change in the lens. The progression of the clouding will continue, eventually leading to blindness in that eye if left untreated.
What are the Symptoms of a Cataract?
Cataracts cause a progressive, painless loss of vision, along with these symptoms:
Trouble with night vision
Fading of color
Increased sensitivity to glare
Halos surrounding lights
Double vision in the affected eye
A need to frequently change eyeglass prescriptions
A feeling as if there is a film over the eye
What are Risks Factors for Cataracts?
In addition to general aging, these risk factors increase a person’s risk for developing cataracts:
Excessive alcohol use
Excessive sun exposure
Exposure to radiation from x-rays and cancer treatments
Family history of cataracts
High blood pressure
Previous eye injury or surgery
Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
What Our Patients Are Saying
“He was extremely empathetic to my needs and explained everything fully in a way that I could understand. He cared about ‘me’ and not just performing another procedure to add to his resume.” -Scott B.
Types Of Cataracts
Cataracts can be classified in several different ways. They may be partial or complete, stationary or progressive, or hard or soft. They can also be classified by the cloudiness of the lens. The main types of age-related cataracts are nuclear sclerosis, cortical, and posterior subcapsular.
This is the most common type of cataract, its name coming from the central or “nuclear” part of the lens. Over time, cataracts form in the middle of the lens and cause it to become yellow or brown. These mainly affect distance vision, with reading less affected.
These cataracts are wedge-shaped and form around the edges of the nucleus/center of the lens. When viewed through an ophthalmoscope, cortical cataracts look like white spokes on a wheel. These cataracts create problems with glare and light scatter at night.
These cataracts occur at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroids have a greater risk of developing posterior subcapsular cataracts.
While these are the most common, there are some other types of cataracts. An immature cataract has some transparent protein, but in a mature cataract, all of the lens protein is opaque. In a hyper-mature or Morgagnian cataract, the lens proteins have become liquid. Congenital cataracts, which are present at birth or develop during a baby’s first year, are far less common than age-related cataracts.
How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?
At Maehara Eye Surgery, we perform cataract screenings as a part of our comprehensive eye exams at our Honolulu offics. We can usually see cataracts as a part of this exam, but we check tonometry to measure the pressure inside the eye. The most common tonometry test uses a painless puff of air to flatten your cornea and test eye pressure. When we suspect cataracts, we also test for sensitivity to glare and your perception of color.
Do cataracts occur in both eyes at the same time?
Cataracts will usually develop in both eyes at some point, but they don’t necessarily develop in both eyes concurrently. If one eye has an advanced cataract, while the other eye is just beginning to cloud, patients will still opt to have both eyes addressed because the eye with the lesser degree of clouding will only continue to become cloudier.
When will I know if I should have cataract surgery?
Everyone is different, but this is truly a question of quality of life. Cataract-clouded lenses lessen the colors you see. They make it difficult to drive and see at night. It’s like you’re looking through a smudged, dirty window. Who wants to do that with everything we want to see every day here in beautiful Hawaii? When your cataract has developed to the point where it is blurring your vision, creating glare around lights when driving, impacting reading, and other issues, it’s time to have surgery. What’s to be gained by waiting?
Should I wait as long as possible to have cataract surgery?
There is absolutely no reason to put off this surgery with Dr. Maehara or another cataract specialist. Life is short. Why would you want to spend your days looking through a clouded lens that decreases the quality of your vision, the vibrancy of the colors you see, and your ability to drive and otherwise see at night?
Cataract surgery is the most successful surgery in the world, with a 99 percent success rate. Think about that. What else do you know of in the world that is 99 percent successful? These surgeries are quick, painless, and don’t require a difficult recovery.
Plus, today’s technologically advanced intraocular lenses are nothing short of miracles on their own. Today’s intraocular lenses can allow patients to see clearly at all distances, sometimes completely removing the need to wear eyeglasses. These IOLs can correct for astigmatism and even presbyopia, the near-universal condition where our eyes have trouble focusing up close after we turn 40. Patients receiving these IOLs can have better vision after this surgery than they have had at any time in their lives.
If you’d like to learn more about these premium intraocular lenses, check out our Premium IOL pagehere.
What Treatment Options are Available for Cataracts?
The only treatment for cataracts is surgery to replace the clouded lenses. Once affected, the lenses will not return to their former clarity. Still, if patients are not interested in surgery, we can help manage symptoms with stronger prescription eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating.
Surgery involves replacing the natural, clouded lens with an interocular lens implant (IOL). At Maehara Eye Surgery, we recommend surgery when cataracts are impacting your daily life, affecting activities such as reading or driving.
How long does cataract surgery take?
It’s amazing, but cataract surgery only takes about 15-20 minutes. There isn’t any discomfort, and your recovery is fast and not difficult.
Can cataracts be reversed or prevented?
There isn’t a cure for cataracts, nor is there any way to reverse their progression. Cataracts form as proteins build up in the natural lens of the eye over time. This progression is common — in the U.S., it’s estimated that a 70-year-old has a 50/50 chance of either having cataracts or already having had cataract surgery. By the age of 80, that percentage approaches three quarters of the population.
The only way to “reverse” a cataract is to have the natural clouded lens removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens.
As for preventing cataracts in the first place, that’s a tall order, especially here in sunny Hawaii. Exposure to sunlight increases your risk of later developing cataracts, so make sure your sunglasses (and even contact lenses) have UV protection. Otherwise, smoking, diabetes, long-term uses of corticosteroids, and excessive alcohol consumption are all tied to higher risks of developing cataracts.
But this isn’t meant to scare you. Most people, regardless of what they do to prevent them, will develop cataracts in their lives. This isn’t cause for concern, however, because surgery with an experienced surgeon such as Dr. Maehara is one of the most successful surgeries in the world, and it improves vision instantly and dramatically.
How is Cataract Surgery Performed?
We perform a minimally invasive, small-incision, no-stitch cataract surgery called phacoemulsification (“phaco”) surgery. During this procedure, a tiny incision is made in the eye to make room for a small ultrasonic probe. This probe breaks up or emulsifies, the cloudy lens into tiny pieces. The pieces are then suctioned out through the probe. Because of its small size, the incision can heal on its own and only requires a topical (eye drop) anesthesia, so there are no injections or stitching in the eye at all.
Once the cloudy lens has been removed, the artificial IOL is implanted in the eye. Advanced foldable IOLs can be inserted through the same small incision that the original lens was removed from. This significantly reduces recovery times while improving safety and reducing the risk of bleeding, scarring, irritation, and distortion.
Questions? Contact our Practice Today To Learn More About This Procedure
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What is the Recovery from Cataract Surgery?
Immediately after surgery, an eye patch is worn; some doctors advise wearing a protective shield, even when sleeping, for several days. Vision may be blurry at first but improves within a few days. Some itching and discomfort are also present for a few days, but it is important that a patient not rub or exert pressure on the treated eye. Heavy lifting should be avoided. Eye drops to prevent inflammation and infection, and control eye pressure is prescribed.
Full healing can take up to two months, but because we perform cataract surgery on only one eye at a time, daily activities can be resumed in a few days. Most patients need to wear eyeglasses, at least for some tasks, after their surgery. If both eyes have cataracts, we will schedule the second eye for surgery one or two months after the first.
How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?
To learn more about what you can expect to pay for your cataract surgery, we invite you to contact the practice. Our office strives to provide premier care at an affordable price. During your consultation with Dr. Maehara will provide you an estimate for your unique considerations. Additionally, you may also speak with your insurance provider for more details about what your policy covers.
What Our Patients Say About Pricing
“I have been seeing Dr. Maehara routinely for several years. Because I am on a limited budget, I am grateful that he has always provided me with less expensive options – sometimes dramatically less expensive – to traditional recommendations. He also always takes the time to ask in-depth questions and listens to my responses – a rarity among most physicians I know.” -Maryellen M
Schedule A Consultation
Give us a call at our Honolulu office at 808.955.3937 to schedule your consultation, or to simply learn more about this procedure. Our expert staff are happy to answer any questions you may have.