Getting cataracts happens to everyone eventually. It is a part of the natural aging process. The good news is that cataracts can be corrected. Cataract surgery is the most performed surgery in the United States. It is a safe and short procedure with excellent results thanks to the latest in vision correction technology. Getting cataract surgery can also be the perfect opportunity to rid yourself of glasses at the same time. Let us answer your questions about cataract surgery and options available for you.
At Envue, we believe an informed patient makes the best decisions.
What is a Cataract?
Cataracts are the natural degeneration of the proteins of the eye lens that occurs as part of the aging process in everyone. Cataracts aren’t painful and can develop for several years before they lead to any vision problems. It generally develops in individuals between the ages of 40 and 50 years old, but most people don’t experience any symptoms prior to the age of 60. The most noticeable symptom of a cataract is progressively foggy eyesight that isn’t made clear by a patient’s current glasses prescription. Many people begin to realize they need more light to read.
Additional vision-related symptoms could include:
- Finding it difficult to drive at night
- Seeing halos or glare around lights
- Seeing double vision in only one eye
- Seeing colors as faded or having an overall yellowish tint
- Needing frequent prescription changes for your glasses or contacts
Smoking, vaping, drinking too much alcohol, and prolonged sun exposure have been associated with cataracts, as have medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure. Cataracts may also occur as a result of trauma to the eye, prolonged use of steroids, and genetics.
Cataract Surgery Options at Envue
Your examination and discussion with Dr. Rivers will help determine what your visual goals are and the ideal way to help you obtain the best vision possible. Cataract surgery involves the surgical removal of your cloudy lens and replacement with a new intraocular lens (IOL). The new lens restores and often improves your vision. You have two options for cataract surgery at Envue Eye and Laser Center:
Standard Cataract Surgery:
Standard cataract surgery involves replacing your cloudy lens with a lens that restores the vision lost due to your cataract. Many patients choose standard surgery, which simply means they are choosing a monofocal lens implant for the procedure. A monofocal lens offers to improve one visual goal following the surgery. For example, patients who love to golf and want to see the ball as clearly as possible at long distances may choose a monofocal lens set to correct their distance vision as best as the lens will allow. Since the monofocal lens can only correct for one goal, these patients will need visual assistance to see clearly in the near and intermediate range, so they will likely be wearing reading glasses for near vision tasks. Alternatively, for patients who predominately do close range activities, such as needlework, the monofocal lens can correct their vision for the near range, but they would need to use glasses or some sort of correction for their distance vision.
Monofocal Lenses are:
- Typically covered by most insurance;
- Restores vision lost by your cataract;
- May require glasses for reading and/or distance vision depending on your visual goals.
Premium Cataract Surgery:
Premium cataract surgery involves replacing your cloudy lens with a lens that expands your visual independence by correcting for astigmatism and presbyopia (the need for reading glasses), thereby giving you more freedom from glasses after surgery. Premium cataract surgery is laser assisted. With this technology, a laser is used to create the initial incision and break up the eye’s natural clouded lens into small, soft fragments for easier removal. This equipment is not used in standard cataract surgery and is not covered by most insurance. Considering the out-of-pocket expenses for patients, we strive to offer technologies only if we can extend true value in patients’ outcomes. During your consultation with Dr. Rivers, you can discuss if laser-based cataract surgery is right for you.
Premium cataract surgery at Envue:
- Offers the latest intraocular lens (IOL) technology such as the AcrySof IQ Panoptix trifocal IOL, AcrySof IQ Vivity, Symfony Extended Depth of Focus IOL, Tecnis Multi-Focal IOL and the Tecnis Eyhance. These lenses correct for astigmatism and presbyopia – allowing you to see both distance and near;
- Is laser-assisted;
- Is not completely covered by insurance but may be supplemented by insurance.
Top reasons to choose Envue for cataract surgery
1. Experience counts. Dr. Rivers is a military-trained surgeon. He retired after a 30-year-military career as an Army Colonel and as the Director of the Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program and Research Center at Fort Belvoir, VA. He has been performing cataract surgery for military and their family members for many years and is highly experienced with the most advanced intraocular lenses (IOLs).
2. At Envue, cataract surgery is performed in our office based surgical center. This means you are taken care of by the same amazing staff through the entire process – from initial exam, to surgery and post-operative visits. This also allows us to control every aspect of your surgery and give you the customized care you deserve, unlike an ambulatory surgery center where your cataract surgery is one among many other non-eye surgeries. At Envue, we focus only on eye surgery.
3. At your consultation, you will meet with Dr. Rivers to discuss your personalized vision plan, considering not only your eye health but also your goals and lifestyle. You will undergo a comprehensive diagnostic examination and a vision plan tailored specifically for you.
4. Dr Rivers is experienced in offering blended vision also known as mini-monovision. Blended vision can be a great option for patients interested in reducing their dependence on glasses for both near and far distances. Blended or monovision utilizes the same standard monofocal lens mentioned above, one eye will have a lens placed to correct distance vision, while the other eye will be corrected for near vision. Vision is a function of the brain, and not everyone is able to adapt to this vision correction. We recommend trying contact lenses first to ensure your brain can function and adapt to this type of modification.
5. We will work with your insurance company to ensure we maximize the coverage offered by your plan. Most insurance companies will cover the standard monofocal lens if they are covering the cataract procedure in general. You can think of the monofocal lens as “flying coach” on an airplane, while our premium vision options (or specialty intraocular lenses) are an out-of-pocket expense, similar to “upgrading to first-class” but it all depends on your vision goals.
6. Your comfort and exceptional vision correction results are our main focus. We love making people happy.
Cataract Questions and Answers
Does cataract surgery hurt?
No. We will take the time to make you comfortable and ensure that you receive the safest care at Envue. Patients may be provided with mild sedation to ensure comfort during surgery. After surgery, you may have a mild foreign body sensation which is often described like having an eyelash on your eye.
How long does cataract surgery take?
Your surgery takes about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your vision correction needs. You will need to arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Usually only one eye is treated at a time.
What is recovery like after cataract surgery?
Recovery after cataract surgery is quick. After Dr. Rivers performs your procedure in one of Envue’s office-based surgical suites, you will relax in our recovery room. Although you will be able to see after surgery, your vision will be blurry during the initial recovery period. We recommend that you rest after surgery. Your vision will continue to progress each day. After surgery you may leave with a clear shield over the eye or with sunglasses provided by Envue.
You will not be able to drive yourself home and must have a friend or family member with you. Prior to going home, Dr. Rivers and the Envue staff will review the proper use of the prescribed eye drops and confirm the time of your follow up exam. Expect to use the eye drops for several weeks. It will help with recovery, reduce the chance of infection, and help lubricate your eyes.
When can I resume normal activities after cataract surgery?
Generally, we recommend that patients, at a minimum, take the following day off after their procedure. Typically, a patient’s vision correction allows them to drive the very next day for their follow-up appointment at Envue. However, we recommend patients only drive if they feel comfortable.
Depending on your comfort level and job requirements, we may recommend a longer recovery period. You can resume many of your normal activities within a day or two after cataract surgery, but we recommend you follow our post-operative instructions to ensure the best results.
What should I avoid doing immediately after cataract surgery?
It is important to avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise immediately after cataract surgery. We recommend you avoid rubbing your eye. It is safe to shower but avoid getting water directly into your eyes.
Who should not have cataract surgery?
There are few scenarios where cataract surgery would not be recommended. Typically, these reasons are related to the patients’ health. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, ocular inflammation, or certain retinal condition may be asked to delay surgery until these conditions are under control.
Do cataracts come back?
No. Once your cataract is removed and replaced with a new lens, you can never develop another cataract. You will not need to replace the intraocular lens because it is designed to last the rest of your life. Some patients may develop a film on their lens known as a posterior capsular opacification or a secondary cataract. This is not a true cataract.
This is simply a film that may develop on the implanted lens. The good news is the treatment for this, a YAG Capsulotomy laser, is quick, painless and effective with immediate results. The laser treatment is done within the eye clinic and there is no need for anesthesia. The YAG Capsulotomy is performed while sitting across from the surgeon, much like a regular clinic visit. The cloudy film that has developed on the posterior capsule is penetrated with the laser, which removes the foggy film. This allows light to reach the retina more effectively. Once done, you will never again develop the film on your lens.
What can I expect with cataract surgery at Envue?
At Envue, the focus is on you. As part of your premier customized patient experience, you’ll find – from your first contact with Envue, to your consultation and vision correction procedure with Dr. Rivers, and your follow-up care – we take the time to listen to and answer your vision correction concerns. We want you to entrust us with your care. Find out what other patients say about their experience with Dr. Rivers and the Envue team.