To save time before your initial appointment, please download and fill out our Patient Registration Forms at home, and bring them with you to your appointment at either the Winchester or Front Royal offices.
The following is a link where you can find additional information on a variety of eye conditions:getEyeSmart.org
The American Academy of Ophthalmology website has good information as well.aao.org
Cataracts and Cataract Surgery
by Alan J. Fink, MD
There are many misconceptions that have arisen over the years about cataracts and cataract surgery. Many people have the notion that a cataract is a film or growth which develops over the eye. To understand better how a cataract affects you vision, you must first have a general knowledge of how the eye works.
The human eye functions in a similar manner to that of a camera. There is a clear crystalline lens in the front portion of the eye, lying directly behind the colored iris, which focuses objects onto the retina in the back of the eye. A cataract is not a growth. If fact, it is a gradual clouding of the normally clear lens which occurs as a part of the natural aging process or from certain diseases or injuries. Since light cannot adequately pass through the clouded lens or cataract, the person's vision becomes blurred or hazy as though trying to look through a very dirty window.
Unfortunately, at present there are no medications or treatments which are successful in reversing the process of cataract formation. Only by surgical removal of the clouded lens can adequate vision be restored. A frequently-asked question and a common misconception about cataract surgery is whether lasers can be used to remove someone's cataract. This is not possible, since the only way to remove the clouded lens from the eye, and the only way to insert an artificial lens implant, is through a surgical incision in the eye itself.
Cataract surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis and in most cases under local anesthesia. This means you can go home on the same day as the surgery without incurring expensive hospital room costs. Medicare, along with most private insurance carriers, will cover most cataract surgery costs.
The most modern form of cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens by using an ultrasonic machine which first breaks up the cataract into tiny pieces and then vacuums them out of the eye through a very small incision. This small incision usually requires no stitches or sometimes only a single stitch. The advanced, small incision cataract extraction technology, called "Phacoemulsification", provides better control and precision than previous methods of cataract removal. On rare occasions or with extremely advanced cataracts, a larger incision technique may be required.
Although the first lens implant was performed back in 1949, lens implantation did not become commonplace until the 1980's with the introduction of high-quality, safe artificial intraocular lenses. At present, most ophthalmologists will insert an artificial lens implant into a person's eye at the time of cataract removal. The lens implant is permanent and will simulate the function of the eye's original lens, although some people may need to wear glasses to obtain their best possible level of vision.
Sometimes following cataract surgery a membrane can form behind the implant, making vision blurry once again. This is quite common and can occur anywhere from several months to years after the original surgery. If this should happen, a laser can be used to make an opening in the membrane and restore vision (YAG Laser Capsulotomy).
When is a cataract "ripe"? This question often arises regarding the timing of cataract surgery. The answer is different for each individual and depends on the person‘s lifestyle and work habits. For example, a person who remains at home, perhaps watches TV, but does very little reading, may not require perfect 20/20 vision. Such an individual may be able to get along very well until the cataract becomes more advanced before considering cataract surgery. On the other hand, a person who is an avid reader, enjoys needlepoint, or who depends on driving a car to get from place to place requires sharp vision to carry out these tasks. That person may need cataract surgery much sooner than the other person who stays home most of the time. So the decision of when a cataract should be removed is one made jointly by the doctor and the patient and takes into consideration the patient's visual symptoms, lifestyle, and needs.
Cataract and implant surgery has come a long way in past years due to recent advances in medical technology and ever-constant improvements in surgical technique. Indeed, modern outpatient surgery can be a minor miracle to those afflicted with vision loss due to cataracts.