A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, which interferes with light passing through to the retina. This clouding results in blurred and lost vision. Many people suffering from cataracts describe the visual distortion as being similar to looking through a waterfall or a piece of wax paper. They may also complain of night halos, excessive glare or double vision. Cataracts are most commonly found in people age 60 and over. They are often the result of the natural aging process of the lens in the eye. However, cataracts can also be diagnosed in much younger individuals. They can be the result of a previous eye injury, chronic use of steroid drops or they can be inherited.
Because a cataract cannot be seen by the naked eye, an ophthalmologist must dilate the pupil and examine the lens under a special microscope to see if a cataract is present. Once a cataract has been diagnosed, it must be surgically removed in order to restore clear vision. To date there is no known treatment to prevent the development of cataracts.
Eye surgeon Nancy Balin, MD, FACS, performs the most advanced cataract surgery available today, implementing a method known as phacoemulsification. The eye surgery is performed in West Springfield, Massachusetts at the cataract and laser center on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. A complete physical examination is required prior to the surgical procedure to ensure the patients overall health. During the surgery an ultra sound emitting probe is directed at the cataract. These high-energy sound waves break the cataract into tiny, microscopic pieces, which are gently suctioned, from the eye. The procedure is performed through a small incision which is self sealing, requiring no sutures. Most people report improved vision immediately following the surgery and are able to return to their normal activities within two days.
Because the eye surgeon removes the natural lens of the eye during surgery, it is necessary to substitute an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens into the eye. The intraocular lens functions in the same manner as the natural lens, focusing light rays directly onto the retina to produce clear, sharp images.
Eye surgeon Dr. Balin of Western, Massachusetts performs cataract surgery using the monofocal, multifocal and Crystalens™ Intraocular lens.
Patients who want only to correct their distance vision will select a monofocal lens. This type of lens will provide good vision at a single focal point. Most patients who choose a monofocal lens will require a pair of reading glasses following the surgery for correcting their near vision.
For patients who want to correct distance, intermediate and reading vision, Dr. Balin can implant a multifocal lens or the Crystalens™. Each of these Intraocular lenses provides different ranges of correction, but in a different way.
The Crystalens™ is the first and only fully accommodating Intraocular lens in the United States. The lens provides a continuous range of vision at all distances. The Crystalens™ has a unique design which incorporates a hinge on each side of the lens. The hinge allows the lens to move forward and backward in conjunction with the eye’s natural ciliary muscle. As the muscle moves to focus at different distances the lens is moved to bring the objects into focus in the same way that the eye focuses in youth. Patients who choose the Crystalens™ will usually not need reading glasses for mid-range or up-close work following their procedure.
Dr. Balin also performs cataract surgery using the multifocal IOLs – ReSTOR® and Tecnis IOL. These lens implants provide both distance and reading vision. In most cases patients who choose a multifocal lens implant will not need glasses to read following their procedure.
To find out if you are a candidate for cataract surgery, you will need a complete eye exam by Dr. Balin. Please contact the office at 800-436-3937 to schedule an appointment.
For those individuals with astigmatism, a cornea that is shaped like a football, Dr. Balin can perform a procedure known as Astigmatic Keratotomy during cataract surgery to reshape the cornea into a sphere. There are also new lens implants available like the AcrySof® Toric lens that can be used to correct the astigmatism. Correcting the astigmatism will reduce the individual's need for glasses after the surgery.