3 things you need to know about cataract surgery

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Dr. Jonathan Fritz performs laser cataract surgery.

If you wear glasses, you know how annoying it is when your finger rubs against the lens, leaving a smudge. Everything gets a little fuzzy and cloudy until you can finally wipe it clean.

But imagine if this spot never came off.

No amount of rubbing, wiping or cleaning would ever clear it. The smudge slowly keeps expanding, making everything look foggy, cloudy, and blurry. Eventually, this blemish takes over the entire lens, and nothing is clear.

That’s what it’s like having cataracts.

Everybody has a natural lens in their eye. This lens bends, or “refracts,” light rays that come into the eye to help people see. As we age, the lens continues to grow, becoming thick, opaque, and cloudy. When this happens, it’s called a cataract.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cataracts affect nearly 22 million Americans age 40 and older.

Natural aging of the eye causes most cataracts, say the experts at Carolina Ophthalmology, P.A. Others may be caused by diabetes, steroid exposure, smoking, or genetics. How fast a cataract will develop varies by individual, but usually develops in people over the age of 65.

If you’re suffering from blurry vision, light sensitivity, trouble seeing at night, or are seeing double; you might have a cataract.

Seeing as June is Cataract Awareness Month, it’s important to be aware of the frequently asked questions about this condition.

If you have been diagnosed with cataracts or think you may have one, here are some things to consider.

1. Surgery is the only definitive treatment for cataracts.

Over three million people in the United States have cataract surgery each year. It’s usually performed under local or topical anesthesia as an outpatient procedure.

In surgery, the cataract or cloudy lens is removed from the eye, the lens is replaced with an intraocular lens implant, and the focusing power of the eye is restored. Although the prospect of cataract surgery can be intimidating, the procedure itself is the most common elective surgery among Medicare beneficiaries in the United States.

Multiple studies have demonstrated its association with improved quality of life, reduced risk of falling, and fewer car crashes.

In addition, one study found that those who had cataract surgery had a 40 percent lower long-term mortality risk than those who did not.

2. Significant advancements in technology can have an impact on your vision.

Innovations such as laser cataract surgery and ORA™ technology provide a truly customizable cataract surgery experience for each patient.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery utilizes the LenSx® laser for bladeless cataract surgery. The use of this technology provides image guidance to ensure a more predictable outcome with enhanced precision.

This 3-D imaging also assists the surgeon by automating and performing the most challenging steps of traditional cataract surgery.

The ORA™ system can be used with or without the LenSx® laser. It allows the surgeon to take additional measurements and ensure the most accurate intraocular lens is selected during surgery. Both the LenSx® laser and the ORA™ system are exclusively available at Carolina Ophthalmology.

3. You might be able to say goodbye to glasses after surgery.

Traditionally, most intraocular lens implants placed during cataract surgery have allowed for good vision only at a distance, and do not provide a full range of functional vision. This means there’s a chance you’ll still need glasses for reading, computer work, and other near-vision activities.

But if your doctor uses premium intraocular lenses (IOL), such as the Tecnis Symfony®, you could come out of surgery with quality vision at near, intermediate and far distances. If you are considering cataract surgery, be sure to explore all of your options and discuss with your surgeon, which intraocular lens may be right for you.

Carolina Ophthalmology, P.A. has been serving the people of WNC since 1980. They are the only practice in western North Carolina that performs laser cataract surgery and offers ORA™ technology. The practice also provides general ophthalmology examinations and treats a wide variety of other eye conditions, including glaucoma, retinal disorders, ocular cancers and eyelid problems. They have offices in Hendersonville, Asheville, Columbus, Spruce Pine and Franklin, NC. To learn more or schedule a consultation, visit carolinaeyemd.com or call 800-624-6575.

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