Cataracts & Glaucoma: What's new?
Here at Peninsula Eye Physicians and Surgeons we strive to keep ourselves educated with the latest that science has to offer you. I routinely try to attend multiple Medical Society Meetings every year and so I wanted to write this post to explain some of the new techniques and treatments that we offer.
I attended the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting last year and earlier this year I attended the Hawaiian Eye Society Meeting. At the meetings I learned about new developments in two diseases that I am especially interested in and would like to tell you about: Cataracts and Glaucoma.
A Cataract is a clouding or an opacification of the natural lens of the eye. This lens is just like the lens of a camera; it helps focus light onto the retina. The retina is like the film you used to put in your camera (now you probably use a smartphone but the basic idea is the same); it absorbs light and forms the images you see when you look at things.
As a Cataract surgeon my job is to remove your cloudy lens and replace it with a clear replacement lens. Years ago we utilized replacements lenses, known as Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) and they were designed to help you see either near or far, not both. So after surgery chances are you would still need to wear glasses; usually to read or look at your tablet or computer. If you had pre existing astigmatism then you would need glasses after cataract surgery for both near and far vision.
The latest change in our ability to “ fix” cataracts is the development and use of new IOLs. The exciting features are primarily found in new multifocal or “Extended Depth of Field“ implants. When we’ve implanted them in both eyes roughly 80% of patients don’t feel the need to wear glasses; near or far!
Now remember 80% does not mean 100% so some patients with these new IOLs still need to wear glasses from time to time; but the overwhelming majority of our patients are very happy with their new vision and are very happy being less dependent on glasses.
The side effects of these new IOLs are becoming much less apparent and the new IOLs can actually correct vision for near, far and also can correct astigmatism.
There are also quite a few new ways of performing cataract surgery that I am presently doing here at PenEye, including numbing the eye for cataract surgery without the use of needles. Often patients are able to return to their usual activities within a few days of surgery thanks to new ways of performing surgery using small incisions with or without the use of sutures.
At our meetings we also learned of new techniques to lower the pressure in our patient’s eyes; those patients with glaucoma. Glaucoma is a potentially serious disease whereby the pressure in the eyes becomes excessively high; high enough to cause damage to the optic nerve. This disease may occur slowly and insidiously so that you, the patient, may not realize it is happening until it is too late. This is one of the reasons that we feel most people over the age of 40 ought to have an eye exam every few years.
The new techniques we can use to treat glaucoma include new eye drops that have now become generic; so they are much cheaper. And we also have new surgical techniques that we can use at the time of cataract surgery that can help lower the pressure in the eye.
I hope that you found the information in this post to be useful. As always, the Doctors of Peninsula Eye Physicians are here to serve all your eye care needs. Thank you for your attention and I hope to update this post regularly.
Michael Drinnan, M.D.
Dr. Drinnan has a special interest in cataract and refractive surgery and is one of the busiest cataract surgeons in the Peninsula. He was one of the first surgeons to implant the new multifocal intraocular lens at Mills-Peninsula Hospital