Cataracts and Primary Eye Care


If the lens becomes cloudy, the light reaching the retina is blurred and distorted, and your vision is affected. This clouded lens is called a cataract, and it must be removed before vision can be restored. A clouded lens can be compared to a window that is frosted or "fogged" with steam. Cataracts are not cancerous. They can be treated with a surgical procedure that has become a fairly common procedure in the United States. 


A pinguecula is a common, non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue (conjunctiva) that lays over the white part of the eye (sclera).

The cause is unknown, but long-term sunlight exposure and eye irritation may contribute to its development. Welding is a major job-related risk.

A pinguecula is a small, yellowish nodule on the conjunctiva near the cornea. It can appear on either side of the cornea, but tends to appear more on the nose (nasal) side. It may increase in size over many years.

Cataract Surgery Complications

Of the vast majority of patients who have cataract surgery, only a small number experience complications. Infection, bleeding and retinal swelling or detachment might occur. Also, glaucoma, corneal clouding or loss of an eye are some of the more serious, but rare complications.

Those most at risk for complications include alcoholics, substance abusers, diabetics, and people with glaucoma, high myopia or vascular disease. If your eye is healthy before the surgery, the likelihood is that the surgery will be successful.

After Your Cataract Surgery

Following cataract surgery, most of the healing occurs within three months. During that time, it is important to visit your ophthalmologist and use the eyedrops as prescribed. If you have had an intraocular lens implanted and have no complications, you will notice improved vision in a week, or even sooner.

You can get temporary glasses shortly after the surgery, but your final eyeglass or contact lens will not be ordered until most of the healing is completed.

Cataract Surgery at Wills Eye

Most patients can have their cataract surgery done through Wills Eye's Day Surgery program or at one of the Wills Eye Surgery Centers located throughout the region. On the day of the surgery you will be given medication to calm and relax you.

Development of the Intraocular Lens Implants

Intraocular lens implants (IOLs) have been used since 1949. Physicians at Wills Eye were the first in the United States to perform the implant procedure in 1952, and millions of these procedures have been performed since then.

Present-day IOLs have undergone many improvements and refinements over the years, and results have generally been excellent.

Research into new types of IOLs is ongoing. The latest versions include a soft, foldable lens that can fit through an even smaller incision, and the bifocal intraocular lens.

Cataract Eyeglasses

Years ago, cataract eyeglasses were the only option for patients who required cataract surgery. They are still used today but seldomly because they are the least-preferred option. These are recommended only when a patient cannot have another IOL implant or when they cannot wear contact lenses. A cataract glass is a thick magnifying glass that may provide perfect vision. However, the glass provides clear vision only through the center of the lens, magnifying everything to about one-third larger than normal.

There are several disadvantages with cataract eyeglasses.

Contact Lens after Cataract Surgery

Contact lenses are another alternative to IOL implants. However, handling them is sometimes cumbersome, and not everyone is a good candidate. Patients with tremors, extreme nervousness, or dry eyes, for example, are not likely to wear contact lenses with much success.

Today, hard contact lenses, soft lenses and extended wear soft lenses are available for persons who have had cataract surgery.

Intraocular Lens Implant

An intraocular lens implant, or IOL, is an artificial lens made of plastic, silicone, acrylic or other material that is implanted inside the eye during cataract surgery. The IOL is implanted within the capsule, which provides permanent support for the lens. This is the most natural and preferred way of restoring vision.

YAG Capsulotomy

In about 10 to 50 percent of patients who have a cataract removed, the capsule becomes cloudy several months or years after the original surgery. Often this condition is referred to as a "secondary cataract." However, this does not mean that the patient has another cataract; it is only the capsule — not the artificial lens — that has become cloudy.

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