Small Incision Surgery
The eye’s natural lens consists of an outer covering, or capsule, and an inner gel-like material called the nucleus. An opening is made into the lens capsule and the cloudy nucleus is removed. The lens capsule is left in place to support the new lens implant.
Phacoemulsification (phaco), or small incision surgery, is a key element in promoting a faster recovery time. This surgery combines powerful microscopes with precise operating instruments, allowing Dr. Kim to make an incision less than one-third the size of a traditional incision. Stitches are rarely needed, visual recovery is faster and there is less chance for surgically induced astigmatism (distortion of vision) than with more traditional surgical procedures.
The Importance of Pre-Surgery Testing
A routine eye examination determines the health of your eyes and their ability to have cataract and lens implant surgery. A special test using ultrasound, called an A-Scan, measures your eye to determine the power of the intraocular lens. An endothelial cell count is another measure we use to determine your eye health and your opportunity for restored vision. When you arrive at the Clayton Cataract & Laser Surgery Center on the day of surgery, additional tests will be performed to prepare you for surgery.
Vision After Surgery
Since cataract surgery involves the removal of the focusing lens of the eye, a replacement lens must be present to see well after the surgery. There is a choice of three substitute lenses used to replace the removed cloudy lens: (1) cataract glasses, (2) contact lenses, and (3) intraocular lens implants. The most natural way to restore vision is to insert an intraocular lens implant into the same place as your God-given lens.
With today’s painless, small incision eye surgery techniques, visual recovery occurs rapidly after surgery. Many people who have worn glasses for years are amazed at how good their vision is after cataract and lens implant surgery. For many patients, problems like astigmatism and nearsightedness are treated surgically during the procedure. As a result, the need for eyeglasses after surgery is greatly reduced or eliminated.
Small Incision Intraocular Lens Implants
Today, the most common way of replacing the focusing lens of the eye is with an artificial lens implant or intraocular lens. Intraocular lenses give the patient a permanent focusing device that requires no care by the patient. New advances in Intraocular lens (IOL) technology include narrow profile lenses made of materials that are highly compatible with the body’s own natural tissues. Narrow profile lenses allow Dr. Kim to insert the lens through the small “phaco” incision. The combination of surgical technique and the narrow profile lens is credited with allowing the patient to experience a better visual recovery in less time and with fewer complications than with previous lens implants.
Advantages of Refractive Small Incision Intraocular Lens Implants:
- Elimination of contact lenses or thick cataract glasses.
- A permanent implant that requires no care.
- No restriction on activity after recovery from the surgery
- A normal appearance after surgery.
- Good depth perception and ability to judge distances
- No interference with side vision
Secondary Intraocular Lenses
An intraocular lens may be inserted after previous cataract surgery when the patient fails to adjust to cataract glasses or contact lenses. Some of our happiest patients are those who have had a lens implanted after many years or trying to adjust to cataract glasses or contact lenses.
A part of the lens, the capsule, is left in place during cataract surgery to help support the intraocular lens implant.
Frequently, through a normal process of cell regeneration, this capsule may turn cloudy. If this occurs, an instrument called the YAG Laser can remove the cloudy capsule. The treatment only takes a few minutes, and is performed using special light rays that pass into the eye through the clear cornea. The procedure is painless and does not require an incision. Contrary to popular belief, cataracts are not removed with laser technology at this time. The YAG Laser procedure is not much different from having your eyes examined. The patient sits in a chair with their head in a support that looks just like the regular eye examination. Dr. Kim focuses the YAG laser onto the cloudy posterior capsule using a special aiming beam. As he activates the laser to open the capsule, a serious of clicks may be heard. After the laser treatment, good vision returns right away.