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Dr. Samuel Long on ‘true breakthroughs’ in cataract surgery

  • Category: General, Eye Care
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  • Written By: Boulder Community Health
Dr. Samuel Long on ‘true breakthroughs’ in cataract surgery

Cataracts affect more than 24.4 million Americans age 40 and older. By age 75, approximately half of all Americans have cataracts. The good news is that cataract surgery is one of the most effective ways to treat cataracts and restore clearer vision.

Cataract surgery involves removing the aging, cloudy eye lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens implant, or IOL.

“With traditional cataract surgery, only distance or near vision can be restored with an IOL, but not both. Additionally, traditional surgery doesn’t correct astigmatism. This leaves patients dependent on their glasses or contact lenses. Now, because of true breakthroughs in IOLs, cataract surgery can address these other vision problems,” said ophthalmologist Samuel Long, MD, of Boulder Eye Surgeons during a free health lecture on the Latest Advances in Cataract Surgery.

Video: Watch "Latest Advances in Cataract Surgery"

Cataract symptoms

Cataracts usually develop slowly. New glasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying lenses can help at first. Symptoms include the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • Colors that seem faded
  • Glare - headlights, lamps or sunlight may seem too bright. You may also see a halo around lights.
  • Not being able to see well at night
  • Double vision
  • Frequent prescription changes in your eye wear

Cataract Surgery: Quick, Safe, Successful

There is a lot of good news for patients experiencing cataracts. Dr. Long highlighted that cataract surgery:

  • is the most commonly performed surgery in the U.S.,
  • is very successful; 95% of patients experience improved vision,
  • removes the cataract from its surrounding capsule and
  • replaces the cataract with an artificial IOL, designed to be as clear and healthy as a natural lens.

He also stated important advancements, noting, “Cataract surgery is much safer and quicker now. It takes only 10 minutes to perform, recovery takes a day, the incision needed is very small at 2 millimeters and the majority of vision improvement happens in one day.”

Traditional vs Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery

Dr. Long spent time describing laser-assisted cataract surgery — one of the latest options for treating cataracts.

“Laser-assisted replaces the manual use of blades during cataract surgery,” Dr. Long explained. “Using a computerized high-resolution scanning system, we’re able to customize the procedure to your eye’s unique characteristics. This allows for the removal of a cataract with greater precision, predictability and safety than in traditional cataract surgery. With more accurate incision creation, cataract disassembly and IOL positioning, the laser offers the potential for reduced inflammation and recovery time, as well as increased accuracy of visual correction."

Lens Options

  • Standard Monofocal—gives you one standard focal distance, either near or far. This means you will still require reading glasses.
  • Premium Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)—are used in conjunction with laser-assisted surgery.
    • Toric IOLs are astigmatism correcting intraocular lenses used at the time of cataract surgery to reduce or eliminate a patient’s astigmatism and significantly improve uncorrected distance vision.
    • Multifocal Lens Options are for people who don’t ever want to wear glasses. This two-in-one lens is similar to trifocal lenses and capable of reducing presbyopia (age-related vision loss) and the need for reading glasses.
    • Accommodative Lenses are a replacement for our eyes’ clouded natural lens and, unlike other IOLs, offer the ability to shift, adjust and accommodate as the eye moves. This movement provides focusing power for multiple distances.
    • Elongated/Extended Depth of Focus Lenses (EDOF) create a single elongated focal point (as opposed to multifocal) to enhance depth of focus for those experiencing presbyopia. These lenses can restore a person’s intermediate and distance vision.

New light adjustable lens customizes your vision after surgery

Another option is the new Light Adjustable IOL, which customizes your vision after cataract surgery. Doctors can adjust your new IOL using office-based UV light treatments to achieve the best vision possible.

Dr. Long described the Light Adjustable IOL as a simple concept. He said, “It is the first and only lens that can be adjusted after cataract surgery. Importantly, unlike other cataract surgery, the Light Adjustable Lens lets you preview your vision options before finalizing your choice.”

He explained further, “Until now, we were unable to show patients exactly what the result of their cataract surgery would be. With this lens, we can show them their visual options after surgery, and they can choose where they want their prescription to be.”

Dr. Long then described the process. Once your eye has healed, you return to your eye doctor to have your vision tested. During this visit, you can preview and compare possible vision outcomes before selecting a prescription for your adjustable lens. Your doctor will then apply a proprietary light treatment that precisely reshapes your implanted lens based on your custom prescription.

“In other words, the prescription is incorporated into the lens inside of the eye. The lens is adjusted every three to four days and can be readjusted up to three times until we reach your vision goals,” said Dr. Long. “Once you have achieved your optimal vision, the lens power is permanently locked in with a final light treatment to prevent any further changes.”

“Overall,” Dr. Long said, “standard cataract surgery with a monofocal lens is good, but you may still need glasses. For those with astigmatism, laser-assisted surgery with the standard lens is the better choice: however, you will still need reading glasses.”

He added, “The best option is laser-assisted surgery with EDOF, multifocal or accommodating lenses. The very best, however, is the Light Adjustable IOL. While this is a newer technology, it has been used around globally for nearly 20 years.”

Dr. Long ended his talk by saying, “The most important piece of advice I can offer is to do your research. Ask your surgeon a lot of questions, talk with people who you know who have had cataract surgery and consider which option will best fit your lifestyle and goals.”

Schedule an Appointment

Call 303-625-6451 or visit Boulder Eye Surgeons to schedule a consultation with Dr. Samuel Long.

Click here to view/download a PDF of slides shown during the lecture.

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