If you remember, a cataract is the gradual clouding of the eye’s natural crystalline lens, often as the result of proteins clumping together on the lens over time. Although cataracts typically develop with age, they can develop at any time. A cataract may form in one eye only or it may develop independently in both eyes, but it cannot spread from one eye to another. Manhattan cataract surgeon Sandra Belmont, MD, FACS, can often treat early-stage cataracts with prescription lenses, but more advanced cataracts must be removed with surgery.
What Traditional Manual Cataract Surgery Entails
Undergoing cataract surgery in New York City with Dr. Belmont is generally quick and easy. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, with the use of topical anesthesia so the patient does not feel a thing and is completely comfortable for the duration of surgery. Individuals who have had cataract surgery usually notice an improvement in their vision within a few days after surgery.
To start the most common approach to cataract surgery, Dr. Belmont uses a microkeratome (a surgical blade) to create a miniscule incision in the cornea, through which she accesses the cataract-diseased lens. She then uses a technique called “phacoemulsification,” which involves the use of ultrasound energy to fragment the cataractous lens. Dr. Belmont can now easily suction the lens fragments from the eye before replacing the diseased lens with an intraocular lens implant (IOL) to allow the patient to see clearly after surgery.
Another, less common, approach to cataract surgery is called “extracapsular” cataract surgery. With this procedure, Dr. Belmont creates a slightly longer incision in the side of the cornea. She uses the larger incision to remove the clouded core of the lens in one piece. Dr. Belmont then suctions out the rest of the lens and replaces it with an IOL.
Belmont Eye Center offers several types of IOLs to choose from, including traditional IOL options and premium IOL options such as astigmatism-correcting toric IOLs and multifocal IOLs that allow individuals to see clearly at several distances.
Advanced Laser Cataract Surgery
Suitable candidates can elect to undergo laser cataract surgery in Manhattan with Dr. Belmont. With laser cataract surgery, Dr. Belmont uses a femtosecond laser to replace several of the manual steps required in traditional cataract surgery. For instance, the NYC laser cataract surgeon uses the femtosecond laser to create the incision either on the cornea (for the phacoemulsification procedure) or in the side of the cornea (for the extracapsular procedure). She also uses the laser to break up the cataractous lens for easy removal.
Using a laser for all aspects of cataract surgery may decrease the patient’s risk of sustaining collateral damage to the eye that can potentially be caused by using ultrasound energy to fragment the cataractous lens. However, laser cataract surgery is more expensive than the conventional options, which are just as effective at restoring clear vision as the all-laser procedure is.
The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Laser Cataract Surgery
How long does laser cataract surgery take?
The procedure itself usually takes 30 minutes or less. However, patients can expect to be at the surgery center for a few hours on the day of the procedure.
What should I expect prior to and on the day of cataract surgery?
Prior to cataract surgery, you will receive comprehensive instructions for preparing for the operation. This might include orders for special tests or instructions to stop taking medications and start using special eyedrops.
On the day of cataract surgery, you should expect to arrive at the surgery center about an hour prior to your procedure. You will have a chance to ask any last-minute questions, and then you will receive medication to help you relax. You will be awake during the procedure, but completely comfortable.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for a short time, and then released to go home.
What does recovery from laser cataract surgery entail?
Recovering from laser cataract surgery is generally short. Most people resume work and normal activities within a few days.
Blurry vision, sensitivity to light, itching, some discharge and slight discomfort are common side effects right after surgery. Special eyedrops will be prescribed to reduce inflammation and the risk of infection. An eye shield or eyeglasses can help protect the healing eye. The side effects should subside within about two days after surgery.
Although there aren’t many restrictions after surgery, heavy lifting and strenuous exercise are discouraged for a week. Dr. Belmont will explain additional guidelines and instructions during the pre-operative consultation.
What are some potential complications or side effects of cataract surgery (if any)?
As with any surgical procedure, there are a few potential side effects, including the following:
- Dislocated intraocular lens
- Light sensitivity
- Droopy eyelid (ptosis)
- Macular edema
- Elevated intraocular pressure
The rate of complications is very low when performed by an experienced surgeon like Dr. Belmont.
Do cataracts come back after cataract surgery has been performed?
No, cataracts cannot come back after surgery. Cataracts can only occur in a natural lens; they cannot form on an artificial lens. Because the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens during cataract surgery, cataracts are not a possibility.
What is the cost of cataract surgery?
The cost of cataract surgery varies, based on the specific approach, technology and IOLs used. In 2016, the cost of cataract surgery ranged from $3,000-$5,000 per eye.
Dr. Belmont would be happy to give you a personalized pricing quote after learning more about your particular needs during a consultation. Our team can also go over payment options and financing opportunities at that time.
Does insurance cover cataract surgery?
Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover the cost of standard cataract surgery. They generally do not cover advanced laser cataract surgery and premium IOLs.
If you opt to have laser surgery with premium IOLs, you can expect to pay out of pocket for a portion of the surgery.
Find Out If Laser Cataract Surgery Is Right for You
If you are experiencing progressively cloudy eyesight, you may have cataracts. To determine if you have a cataract and to find out if laser cataract surgery is right for you, you will need the help of Dr. Belmont. During your comprehensive consultation, Dr. Belmont examines your eye health and suggests an appropriate treatment option to meet your unique needs.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Belmont or to learn more about laser cataract surgery and the available premium IOL options, please contact Belmont Eye Center by calling (212) 486-2020 or by clicking here.