What are cataracts and what are your options?

Cataracts and your opportunity for better vision

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. It typically occurs with advancing age but can also be associated with certain diseases, history of trauma, or various medications. Light can no longer be focused normally onto the retina in the back of the eye and images appear cloudy or distorted. Lights, especially driving at night, can become bothersome. Small print can become more difficult. When glasses can no longer adequately improve the vision and reduce these symptoms then surgery can be considered.

Know your options!  Piedmont Eye Center is the area’s only LenSx™ laser cataract surgery provider.  Laser surgery combined with an array of advanced lens implant options allows our patients to see the best they can following surgery.  For more information about laser cataract surgery and advanced technology lens implants, see the FAQ section below.  You owe it to yourself to see the best that you can following cataract surgery.

Watch the videos below to learn about the difference LenSx™ makes as well as our advance lens implant options, Acrysof®IQ PanOptix® and Acrysof®IQ Vivity™ Lenses.

male doctor discussing pamphlet with a female patient


Is surgery the only option to treat cataracts?

Many people develop cataracts but, not everyone requires surgery. Sometimes a change in glasses can improve vision or delay the need for surgery. Cataract surgery should be considered if the cataract causes symptoms bothersome to the patient. These include difficulty seeing to sew, read, drive, or watch TV, difficulty with haloes or glare at night, or problems performing normal activities related to home or work. It is important to see your eye doctor as other conditions can give similar symptoms and require different treatments.

What is an implant?

A lens implant is sometimes referred to as an intraocular lens (IOL) and is placed in the eye at the time of cataract removal. In years past, before implants were developed, patients were left without an IOL and had to wear thick magnifying glasses all the time. Now, with implants that are placed behind the pupil, cataract patients can have improved vision without the need for these unsightly spectacles. These implants are often made of flexible acrylic that allows the lens to be folded and inserted through a small incision, often without the need for sutures.

How are ‘Premium’ implants different from ‘Standard’ implants?

A standard or ‘mono-focal’ implant is one that allows for improved vision at a pre-determined distance, usually far distance (beyond 20 feet). These implants work well but often require the need for reading glasses or bifocals to be worn afterwards. Newer ‘Premium’ implants, by contrast, are more sophisticated lens implants that allow for improved vision at both distance and near with less need for glasses post operatively. Patients who desire to reduce their need for glasses should consider these newer implants. Piedmont Eye Center offers the AcrySof® TORIC, PanOptix® TORIC and Vivity® TORIC for astigmatism and the PanOptix® multi-focal implant for improved distance, intermediate and near vision. And now Acrysof® IQ Vivity™ Lens is offered for an Extended Depth of Focus Lens for clearer vision at distance, arm’s length with reported less glare.  Each implant has their unique advantages. Your doctor can help you decide which implant to consider in meeting your specific needs. 

Who should consider a Premium lens implant?

Patients who desire more freedom from glasses after having cataract surgery can consider a Premium lens implant as an option. Of course, not everyone is a good candidate for these advance implants as certain associated eye disorders and conditions can affect the outcome. Your doctor can advise on your best option after a thorough eye examination and discussion of your daily activities. Since there are four different types of Premium implants available through Piedmont Eye Center, your doctor can help you decide which one is best for you. Normally, cataract patients with otherwise healthy eyes can consider having a Premium lens implant at the time of surgery. Call today to find out more.

Does cataract surgery hurt? Will I be put to sleep during the procedure?

Since this outpatient procedure takes typically 15-20 minutes, localized anesthesia is usually all that is necessary. In most cases, a mild sedative is given, along with eye drops, to numb the eye. Most patients are able to go home within 30 minutes after their surgery.

Where is cataract surgery performed?

Piedmont Eye Center utilizes two separate facilities giving patients more options. Both the Ambulatory Surgery Center of Lynchburg and the Virginia Baptist Outpatient Surgery Center provide a comfortable atmosphere for patients undergoing surgery.

Who performs the procedure?

All eye surgeries for Piedmont Eye Center patients are performed by highly experienced cataract surgeons. Although there are other surgical technicians and nurses in the room to assist, you can be assured your doctor will be performing your surgery.

Are cataracts removed with a laser?

In many cases laser is now used in cataract surgery making for a more precise outcome as it can be used to reduce astigmatism at the same time.  Ultrasound is also used in all cases to help breakup and remove the actual cataract.  Combining laser technology and the proven benefit of ultrasound allows your surgeon to customize treatment to your eye.  Find out more about laser cataract surgery by calling our office today.

I have cataracts in both eyes. Will the doctor treat both at the same time?

Surgery is performed on one eye at a time, waiting usually three weeks or more between eyes. Your doctor can help you decide when its the best time to treat the other eye.

How long will I be at the Surgery Center?

For most cases, patients spend less than two hours at the surgery center, although the actual surgery itself typically lasts around 15 minutes. Much of the time is spent in preparation (check-in, administering dilating drops, reviewing consent, etc). Post-operative instructions will be reviewed prior to your discharge home.

How will my eye feel and what will my vision be like right after surgery?

It is normal for the eye to be scratchy, watery, and irritated after surgery. Your vision will also be blurry. These symptoms gradually improve over the next 24-48 hours, although the vision may take longer improve to its fullest potential.

How long until I can resume normal activities?

Following surgery, patients are told to rest the remainder of the day at home. Someone should drive the patient home because, they have received some mild sedation. Many patients can return to work and usual activities within a few days, depending on their responsibilities and visual requirements. Your doctor will advise you on the first postoperative visit regarding specific limitations related to your surgery.

How soon will I be able to drive?

Most patients can resume some level of daytime driving within a few days, but this may vary depending on your situation. Night driving should be limited until advised by your doctor.

Will I need glasses after surgery?

Although typical surgery with a standard type implant improves distance vision, patients may still require glasses or bifocals for near activities. Advanced-Technology implants, such as the ReSTOR® multi-focal and Acrysof Toric lens, allow patients more freedom from glasses. If you desire to reduce your need for glasses, you should discuss these new options with your doctor.

Can my cataract come back?

No, the cataract cannot come back once removed. However, the capsule that is left behind to hold the implant can become cloudy over time leading to what is referred to as a ‘Secondary Cataract’. This condition is very easy to treat using a laser in the office. The procedure is painless and takes only a few minutes.

Will the implant ever need to be replaced?

In most of cases, the implant will never need to be removed or replaced. Rarely, there are situations where it will need to be removed or replaced. Your doctor can give you more details about this unusual situation.

In the event of a problem after surgery, who do I contact?

If you experience a problem or have concerns following surgery, you will be advised to contact our office during working hours or our answering service after hours. Simply call our office number (434-947-3984) in either case. Your doctor can be reached if necessary.

What makes Piedmont Eye Center different from other eye care providers?

Piedmont Eye Center is the area’s largest multi-specialized ophthalmology practice with eight specialists.  Five of our doctors specialize in advanced cataract surgery.  Other doctors cover such fields as retina, glaucoma, pediatric, cornea, refractive/LASIK, and neuro-ophthalmology.  No other practice in the region has as many sub-specialists and no longer do patients have to travel far for this level of care.  With as many doctors, we can also provide continual coverage of care for our patients even after hours.