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Get Answers to the Three Most Common Questions About Cataract Surgery


Submitted by the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center

As the owner of a successful furniture upholstery business, Rita Landers loves fabric for all its textures and colors. When foggy vision in her right eye began preventing her from measuring properly and made it difficult to see the beautiful details in her textile coverings, she knew it was time to visit an eye doctor.

After a thorough eye exam by Dr. Navaneet S.C. Borisuth, MD, PhD, at the Virdi Eye Clinic in Davenport, it was clear that Landers had a fairly large cataract in her right eye and was also developing one in her left.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. When this happens, light cannot be properly focused on the retina; thus, visual sharpness decreases. Most cataracts are related to aging. About 30 percent of Americans between 65–74 years old have at least one cataract, and about 50 percent of those over 75 have cataracts, said Dr. Borisuth.

The only “cure” for poor vision due to a cataract is surgery. During the surgery, the doctor removes the eye’s lens and implants a new, man-made focusing device called an intraocular lens.

Dr. Borisuth performs approximately 150 cataract surgeries a year at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, located at 3400 Dexter Court in Davenport. We sat down with him recently to discuss some of the most common questions he receives about cataracts and the surgical procedure to remove them.

Are my cataracts “ripe”?
It’s true that people used to have to wait until their cataracts hardened, or “ripened,” before they could get cataract surgery. The operation involves removing the lens intact through a fairly large incision in the eyeball. The results were better if the lens was solid, so it wouldn’t fall apart as the surgeon extracted it.

However, with advancements in surgical procedures, this is no longer the case. Since the early 1990s, most cataracts have been removed by breaking up the lens into small pieces and then suctioning them out — a process referred to as phacoemulsification. This means that the lens doesn’t need to be ripe to be removed.

“With modern techniques we don’t have to wait until the patient is disabled before recommending surgery,” said Dr. Borisuth. “Instead, we recommend surgery when they have difficulty driving a car, seeing at night, or performing other daily activities like Rita did.”

There are other advantages to this type of surgery.

“The surgery itself was only about 15 minutes, and I talked with Dr. Borisuth the whole time,” said Landers.

Since the incision is much smaller, stitches often are not needed and the eye heals faster. And by addressing the cataract problem sooner, the success rate of the surgery increases.

How long will it take to recover?
The benefit of having a minimally invasive procedure — such as phacoemulsification — is that recovery time is very short.

The tiny incision made during the surgery generally requires no stitches and heals itself in a few days. Antibiotic and steroid eye drops are often given to reduce inflammation, to prevent infection, and keep the eye moistened.

“Recovery was very fast. I was able to see immediately following the procedure,” said Landers.

According to Dr. Borisuth, most patients can go back to work the following day as long as they use their postoperative drops and don’t do any heavy lifting on the job.

What will my eyesight be like after the procedure?
After Dr. Borisuth removes the natural lens, he replaces it with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). Like the eye’s natural lens, an IOL focuses light that comes into the eye through the cornea and pupil onto the retina, the sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that relays images through the optic nerve to the brain. The IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye.

“Before IOLs were developed, patients had to wear very thick eyeglasses or special contact lenses to be able to see after cataract surgery,” said Dr. Borisuth. “Nowadays we can get it to the point where patients don’t need glasses most of the time.”

For Landers, Dr. Borisuth selected a multifocal lens that would allow her to see without the use of bifocals after the procedure.

“I’m 68 and I’ve worn glasses since I was a child. I still catch myself reaching for my glasses when I wake up in the morning before I remember that I don’t need them anymore,” said Landers. “I’m really happy I had the surgery. Dr. Borisuth was very open to questions, and he really knows what he’s doing.”

If you’re experiencing cloudy vision, it’s possible a cataract may be to blame. When you visit with your ophthamologist, take the time to learn about all your options so that you can make a wise choice when it comes to the cataract surgery that’s right for you. To learn more about the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, go to www.mvhealth.net and visit Facebook at facebook.com/MississippiValleySurgeryCenter.

To learn more about the Virdi Eye Clinic, visit virdieyemd.com.