The natural lenses of the eyes are naturally very clear but may become clouded due to time or other factors. This cloudiness cannot be “cleaned” off in any way, so the entire lens must be replaced through surgery once the vision is blurry. Cataract surgery is very commonly performed and has become much safer due to many recent developments. Due to the increased safety of the procedure, it is advised to remove the cataract once the vision is not sufficient for your activities and needs. Although cataract surgery is an elective surgery, the biggest mistake patients make is to delay their surgery until the vision loss is severe. Waiting for the cataract to be very advanced actually makes the cataract surgery more difficult and causes increased time for the healing process. Modern developments in cataract surgery have made the procedure much safer and more comfortable for the patient. Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. Dr. Malik performs the majority of his cataract surgery at the Rockford Ambulatory Surgery Center, and the remainder at a hospital. The procedure itself consists of the removal of the clouded lens through a small slit in the cornea made by the surgeon. This is done by using a technology called phacoemulsification. This involves emulsifying the cataract through ultrasonic waves and suctioning the remaining material out. Then a new artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is placed in the vacated capsule. These new lenses allow light to be focused better in the back of the eye, allowing the patient to achieve improved vision. In most cases, sutures are not needed, as the surgical wound will heal quickly on its own. Common issues incurred after surgery include mild discomfort, itchiness and scratchiness of the eye. These annoyances should disappear within a few days. It is highly recommended that you refrain from rubbing your eyes for several weeks. The doctor will prescribe eye drops, usually used for four to six weeks after surgery. One eye is done at a time, and if new glasses are necessary, these can be prescribed two to four weeks after the second eye is done.
Artificial lenses (IOLs) are implanted in the eye to replace natural lenses for patients with cataracts, presbyopia or severe refractive errors. Until recently, IOLs were only available to correct distance vision. These monofocal lenses helped improve distance vision after cataract surgery, but patients still needed glasses or contact lenses for near vision activities like reading and playing cards. Now, advancements in technology have produced multifocal IOLs that allow patients to see better up close along with distance. Multifocal IOLs such as ReSTOR®, Tecnis Multifocal™ preserve distance vision and correct presbyopia so cataract surgery patients can enjoy clear sight without relying on glasses.
Astigmatism is a common problem many people have. It is usually due to the cornea (front part of the eye) being more curved in one direction compared to the other. The more astigmatism one has, the blurrier the vision will be without correction. It is usually corrected with glasses, but can also be corrected with contact lenses or refractive surgery. Recently much progress has been made in treating astigmatism at the same time as cataract surgery. There are two options for treating astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery. One is called limbal relaxing incisions (LRI), also known as corneal relaxing incisions. This works reasonably well with mild amounts of astigmatism, but is not as effective in treating moderate or higher amounts of astigmatism. The other option allows more precise treatment of astigmatism and this option involves use of a toric intraocular lens (toric IOL), which is the Acrysof Toric IOL. This usually produces excellent vision in the distance without glasses.