What are Cataracts?
Cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. When we look at something, light rays travel into our eye through the pupil and are focused through the lens onto the retina, a layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye. The lens must be clear in order to focus light properly onto the retina. If the lens has become cloudy, this is called a cataract. When a cataract causes bothersome vision problems that interfere with your daily activities, your ophthalmologist may recommend surgery to remove the cataract. With cataract surgery, your eye's cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens implant (called an intraocular lens or IOL).
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Secondary IOL (Intraocular Lens)
Before intraocular lenses (IOLs) were developed, people had to wear very thick eyeglasses or special contact lenses to be able to see after cataract surgery. Now, with cataract lens replacement, several types of IOL implants are available to help people enjoy improved vision. Discuss these options with your Eye M.D. to determine the IOL that best suits your vision needs and lifestyle.
The natural lens has a cellophane-like outer lining called the capsule. During cataract surgery the back membrane of the natural lens is left in place to support the artificial lens implant. The capsule is normally clear, however, 3 out of 4 people who have cataract surgery will eventually develop a wrinkling or cloudiness of this membrane. The wrinkling or cloudiness which can develop months or years later is a result of scarring (a normal healing response) and can interfere with vision in ways similar to the original cataract.
If the clouding of the capsule interferes with your vision, your ophthalmologist may suggest opening the capsule to restore normal sight. This is done with a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, whereby your doctor uses a laser beam to make a tiny hole in the posterior membrane to let light pass through and restore clear vision.