Cataract Surgery

Cataract Surgery in Northampton

Dr. Balin has been successfully performing cataract surgery for over two decades. Her surgical expertise and success have made her a well-known and respected cataract surgeon throughout western Massachusetts.

Couple outside smiling

At the Balin Eye & Laser Center we recommend routine eye exams to maintain the health of the eyes. During the exam your eyes are dilated and the doctor will thoroughly examine each eye to detect any eye conditions present such as cataracts.

What Is a Cataract?

A cataract occurs when the natural lens in the eye becomes cloudy or yellowed. This change in the lens progresses and begins to adversely affect the patient’s vision. Some cataracts may develop slowly so that a patient is unaware that he/she has a cataract. 

Graphic showing a diagram of what a cataract is.

Although cataracts are usually diagnosed in older patients, cataracts may be present in younger patients. As this cloudiness progresses, patients begin to experience symptoms such as frequent script changes, difficulty with night glare, vision no longer appears clear and colors seem faded. Although most cataracts are associated with aging, cataracts can also occur from an eye injury, frequent exposure to the sun, a medical condition or they may be caused by some medications. Cataracts may also be the result of genetics.

Since cataracts can be slow to progress, many patients may not initially notice the subtle changes in their vision. A dilated eye exam is necessary to properly diagnose a cataract. Once you have been diagnosed, you will need cataract surgery in order to remove the cataract.  

Cataract Surgeon in Northampton 

When performing cataract surgery, Dr. Balin uses only the most advanced methods. The most advanced technique to remove a cataract available today is through the use of a Femtosecond laser.

Femtosecond laser technology allows Dr. Balin to treat astigmatism during surgery, and offers increased safety and precision. The use of femtosecond technology for cataract surgery is not covered by insurance, although it is the best and safest way to perform cataract surgery today.

What is a femtosecond laser?

The Femtosecond laser is an FDA-approved medical device that can be used for many purposes. Femtosecond laser technology is used to perform a number of the steps required to remove a cataract during surgery.

Well over 1 million cataract procedures have been performed with Femtosecond laser technology since it was approved by the FDA over 10 years ago.

What are the benefits of femtosecond cataract surgery?

There are many benefits to cataract surgery using a femtosecond laser, including:

  • Reduction of corneal astigmatism to improve vision and surgical outcomes
  • Enhanced surgical precision during the capsulotomy step of the procedure, reducing the rate of anterior capsular tears and complications
  • Laser-assisted cataract surgery softens the lens for removal, which makes surgery less traumatic to the eye and results in faster recovery from cataract surgery.
  • More precise corneal incisions

Learn more about laser cataract surgery by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Nancy Balin today! 

Frequently Asked Questions About Cataract Surgery

What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens in the eye. Cataracts are most commonly found in people age 60 and older. 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, a medical condition, chronic use of steroid drops or they can be inherited.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
People suffering with a cataract may experience the following symptoms:

  • Increasing loss or blurring of vision resulting in frequent eye glass prescription changes
  • Increasing sensitivity to light
  • Glare or halo at night
  • Colors may appear more yellowed and not as bright
  • Vision may appear distorted like looking through wax paper or rain.
How is a cataract diagnosed?
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.
How is a cataract treated?
Once a cataract has been diagnosed it must be surgically removed in order to restore clear vision. Dr. Balin performs the most advanced form of cataract surgery implementing a method known as phacoemulsification.

A complete physical is required prior to the surgery to ensure the patient’s overall physical health. Surgery is performed on one eye with the second eye usually being scheduled two weeks later.

During the surgery a topical anesthetic is applied to numb the eye. Dr. Balin will make a small incision into the eye which is usually self-healing requiring no stitches. Using an ultra sound emitting probe, Dr. Balin will direct the probe at the cataract using the sound waves from the probe to break the cataract into tiny microscopic pieces which are then gently suctioned from the eye. Once the impaired natural lens is removed completely, the new intraocular lens will be inserted through the small incision and positioned.

Following treatment an eye patch will be placed over the treated eye to protect the eye and you will be given instructions for follow up care. You will need a driver to drive you home and a driver for the one day appointment which will be scheduled at Balin Eye & Laser Center.

What lens technology does Dr. Balin offer?
For Refractive Cataract Surgery, Dr. Balin offers the most advanced multifocal, toric and accomodating intraocular lenses to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia and astigmatism. These lenses are designed to provide the patient with the greatest range of vision both near, far and in-between. Most patients who are treated with a premium intraocular lens will greatly reduce or even eliminate their need for distance and reading glasses following the procedure.

For patients undergoing traditional cataract surgery, Dr. Balin offers a standard monofocal intraocular lens which is usually set to offer vision at one distance. Although the monofocal lens can be chosen to achieve either distance, near or in-between vision, most patients select the lens for clear distance vision. Patients who elect a monofocal lens for distance vision will greatly reduce or even eliminate their need for distance vision glasses. However, they may need reading glasses for up-close and even in-between vision.

Where is the surgery performed?
Dr. Balin performs the surgery at the Cataract & Laser Center in West Springfield, MA. The surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure. Expect to be at the center for 2-3 hours. You will need a ride home from the surgery and a ride to your one day post op appointment at the Balin Eye & Laser Center. If you need transportation, please contact our office so that we can arrange transport services.
What to expect following cataract surgery?
Following cataract surgery you may resume most normal activities within 48 hours, however, you will be given restrictions on lifting, bending and exertion. You will also be given a schedule of drops to use as you heal. Your follow up appointments will occur at the Balin Eye & Laser Center over the next few months. You will need a ride to your one day post op appointment. Dr. Balin will evaluate your vision at your post op appointment and give you clearance to drive based on your healing.
Does insurance cover the cost of Cataract Surgery?
Insurance may cover the costs of traditional cataract surgery including the cost of the lens. However, patients may have deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance costs that will be their responsibility once the insurance has made payment toward the surgery. It is important to discuss your benefits with your insurance provider.
For patients who are electing to have Refractive Cataract Surgery, an insurance benefit may apply to the cataract surgery, however, it will not cover the additional costs for the pre and post operative care associated with the refractive lens replacement. The additional testing, surgical expertise and follow up care involved with a premium lens will be the patient’s responsibility. These costs will be quoted at the cataract comprehensive exam. We do offer Financing options.
What premium lens implant is right for me?
Choosing an intraocular lens (IOL) can be overwhelming. When considering an IOL, think about the cost, whether or not you want to wear reading glasses, or if you have astigmatism. These factors can certainly help you narrow down which IOL might be right for you. It’s also helpful to consider the kind of vision you want after cataract surgery. Do you want to live glasses-free? Or are you okay with wearing glasses after surgery? Finally, talk with your doctors about which IOL might be right for you. They may make a recommendation based on what IOL they think might be your best fit.

Schedule a Cataract Evaluation

For more information or to schedule a cataract evaluation with Dr. Balin, please contact our office at 413-584-6666.

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