Cataracts are the leading reason for vision loss in people over the age of 40 and are the main cause of blindness in the world today. In fact, estimates suggest that as many as 30 million Americans will suffer from a cataract in one or both eyes by 2020.
If you have been diagnosed with a cataract, the only way to improve your vision is through surgery. This involves your surgeon removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial alternative. Traditionally, this surgery is performed by hand. However, in recent years it has become possible to use laser technology to both make the incision into the cornea to access the natural lens, and to soften the clouding, breaking it up and restoring improved vision to the patient. In doing so, it is possible to avoid total lens replacement and the associated risks with doing so.
In order to feel relaxed and confident when undergoing your treatment for cataracts, particularly if you have chosen laser cataract surgery, it is essential that you choose a competent and experienced surgeon. Let’s find out more about this ocular condition and the best way to choose the right surgeon for your cataract surgery.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is the term given to the clouding of the natural lens of the eye, an area which lies behind the iris and pupil. This lens is primarily made from a combination of water and proteins. In unaffected eyes, the protein is arranged in such a way that we can see clearly. However, as we get older, protein cells may start to clump together. This is the initial stage of the development of the cataract, and over time, more and more protein cells may add to this accumulation, causing a section of clouding that becomes larger and denser.
Exactly why the proteins inside our eyes start to do this after we reach a certain age is something of a mystery. However, there are some risk factors that have been suggested could increase the likelihood of you developing the condition. These include:
- Excessive exposure to UV light
- A diagnosis of diabetes
- A diagnosis of hypertension
- Being overweight or obese
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
- Use of statins to lower cholesterol
- Significantly high alcohol consumption
- Previous surgery to the eye
- Hormone replacement therapy
- A family history of cataracts
Symptoms of cataracts?
The symptoms of a cataract tend to start out fairly subtly, becoming more obvious as the cataract grows and thickens. Initially, you may just notice a slight blurring of your vision, with many patients likening it to looking through a cloudy piece of glass. Ironically, this is pretty much exactly what is happening to your sight. Cataracts can also intensify the effects of light on your eyes, causing glare and brightness that is too strong for your sight to handle. Colors may seem duller than they were before too.
How to choose a surgeon for your cataract surgery
Choosing the right surgeon for your cataract surgery is essential if you want to feel calm and relaxed throughout the procedure, as well as of course obtaining the best possible result from your procedure. Here are our top tips for finding a reputable and experienced laser cataract surgeon.
- Speak to your regular eye doctor first. Although not all eye doctors can perform laser cataract surgery, it is always worth asking your usual eye care professional first. Even if your doctor can’t offer the treatment themselves, they may be able to recommend a local surgeon that can.
- If you can’t obtain a recommendation, draw up a shortlist. You can use the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s website to local a reputable eye doctor near you. Use this to draw up a shortlist of potential surgeons.
- Meet with the ophthalmologists to discuss your case. This is a good opportunity to check out the facility for yourself, see how the staff treat you and other patients and obtain all of the information that you need ahead of your procedure. Ask how many laser cataract surgeries they have performed and their success rate. Trust your gut instinct, if something feels off or if you get a bad vibe from the staff, move on to the next clinic in your list.
- Ask questions. If you can’t get a satisfactory response to all of your questions, your proposed eye surgeon isn’t fulfilling their duty of care to you. Any respectable doctor will be happy to clearly and concisely answer any questions that you have and be committed to alleviating your concern using precise facts and a good bedside manner.
If you are suffering from cataracts and are considering laser surgery to restore your vision, our experienced team of vision specialists will be happy to answer any questions that you may have or to book you a consultation appointment. Call Sonny Goel MD today to learn more about laser cataract surgery at our office 410-888-2020.