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Cataracts

Closeup of a Cataract in an Eye

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the natural crystalline lens of the eye. Vision with cataracts can be compared to looking through a piece of waxed paper or a foggy window. Cataract development is usually a very gradual process of normal aging, but can occasionally occur rapidly. Many people are unaware that they have cataracts because the changes in their vision is gradual.

Chart Showing What It's Like to See With a Cataract vs Healthy Vision

Some common symptoms of cataracts may include:

Traditional Cataract Surgery

The Eye MD has provided high-quality eye surgery in the Lorton, VA, area for years. We treat every patient individually to ensure a good patient-doctor relationship between you and us. This helps us make you feel comfortable in our office so that you’ll be relaxed and ready to go for your procedure.

We want to ensure that you understand what happens with your cataract eye surgery before it starts. Dr. Majlessi will begin by making sure that your eye is clean and dilated. We’ll then administer a topical anesthetic before making a small incision. Next she will put in an ultrasonic device that eliminates the hard, yellow proteins that make the cataract and remove the remains.

Chart Showing the Cataract Surgery Process

Once we remove the cataract, our surgeon will insert a folded intraocular lens. This lens replaces your natural lens and remains in place after the surgery. This lens gives you clear vision while feeling and acting like your natural lens. The small incision self-seals after the procedure finishes. Because the Eye MD use a suture-less surgery option, you can often return to your normal activities after 48 hours.

Laser Cataract Surgery

Laser cataract surgery uses the precision and accuracy of an image-guided femtosecond laser versus relying on the eye surgeon’s steadiness of hand. Special software is used to create 3-D images of the eye, precisely mapping the location, length and depth of the cataract. Stitches are not required with laser cataract surgery.

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Laser Cataract Surgery?

What are my lens options?

Standard IOLs (Single-focus)

Standard IOLs give you sharp, clear focusing power at a single distance, either close up (near vision) or far away (distance vision). They are also called single-focus or monofocal IOLs.

If you choose an IOL for near vision, you wear glasses to drive or see objects at a distance. If your IOL is designed for distance vision, you wear glasses for reading and other close-up activities.

You might choose one IOL for near vision and one for distance. This is called monovision. Our eye surgeon can help you select the best option.

Premium Intraocular Lenses

Vivity uses a new, non-diffractive technology called X-Wave™. Alcon’s proprietary non-diffractive technology uses all available light to create a continuous, extended range of vision.

Other diffractive multifocal lenses split the wavefront into multiple separate focal points. The X-Wave technology offers protection against damaging UV rays and filters blue light rays.

Patients with other multifocal lenses often complain about visual disturbances such as halos, starbursts, and glare. Some patients opt for monofocal lenses because they have a much lower rate of these post-cataract side effects.

Patients with the Vivity lens are reporting lower visual disturbances. These results are more like those seen with monofocal lenses. This is a distinct advantage for patients looking to drive at night.

Alcon Lens

This new lens from Abbot provides an extended range of continuous, full-range high-quality vision. A toric lens option exists for those patients with astigmatism, as well.

In a monofocal lens (the “standard” lens covered by insurance companies) you have one focal point, distance vision. But near vision continues to be blurry and glasses remain necessary for up-close tasks. With a multi-focal lens, a patient has vision with 2 distant focal points. With the Tecnis Symfony® lens, a patient has an elongated focal point.

The occurrences of halo and glare following surgical implantation of the Tecnis Symfony® lens is comparable to that of a monofocal lens.

The PanOptix® Trifocal Lens is the first and only trifocal IOL available in the United States. It is a type of multifocal IOL, but generally provides a broader range of vision without glasses than previous multifocals.  It is designed to provide distance, intermediate (computer), and near (reading) vision. Like other multifocal IOLs, it is designed with multiple rings of different power (unlike trifocal glasses).

PanOptix® Trifocal Lens

This IOL is available with astigmatism correction as well (Toric PanOptix® Trifocal Lens). The full benefit of this IOL is seen when it is placed in both eyes. All multifocals can cause some glare, halos, or a mild decrease in contrast sensitivity, but these are generally mild and overall patient satisfaction with this lens is excellent. While we can’t guarantee independence from glasses with any IOL, most of our patients do not need glasses most of the time with this IOL.

AcrySof ReSTOR IQ
AcrySof ReSTOR IQ®

We offer the latest multifocal lens options, including the Alcon AcrySof ReSTOR IQ® premium lens implant. In research sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 80% of people with this premium IOL never needed glasses. If they did, they usually used glasses only for activities at intermediate distances, such as using a computer, seeing the dashboard display in a car or playing the piano.

The AcrySof ReSTOR® lens is a foldable IOL that represents breakthrough technology because of its unique, patented optic design, which allows patients to experience the highest level of freedom from glasses ever achieved in IOL clinical trials.

During U.S. clinical trials, the results with ReSTOR® were remarkable:

  1. 80% of patients reported that after lens implant surgery with ReSTOR® lenses, they no longer needed glasses or contact lenses to see clearly at all distances.
  2. 94% said they could drive and read the paper without contacts or glasses.
  3. Nearly 94% were so satisfied that they would have the procedure again.

How is the lens used in conjunction with cataract surgery?

If you plan on having cataract surgery, Dr. Susan Majlessi will tell you if a multifocal lens, like the ReSTOR lens is an option. In cataract surgery, your natural lens, which has become cloudy, is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens. The majority of intraocular lenses that are currently available for use by ophthalmologists are designed to give patients good distance vision after surgery. Most patients use reading glasses after surgery to read and see things up close. Unlike these standard intraocular lenses, the ReSTOR intraocular lenses are designed to give patients good distance vision as well as reading, or near, vision after surgery.

The FDA-approved ReSTOR procedure is a landmark in vision correction technology for people with cataracts that may restore the eyesight of your youth. During U.S. clinical trials, the results with ReSTOR Procedure were remarkable:

  • With ReSTOR®, 97% of patients could see well enough to drive a car without glasses or contacts.
  • With ReSTOR®, 97% of patients could read the newspaper without reading glasses or bifocals.
  • With ReSTOR®, 74% of patients could read stock quotes in the Wall Street Journal without reading glasses or bifocals.
Alcon Acrysof Toric Lens Implant
Alcon Acrysof Toric Lens Implant

Toric IOLs offer patients with moderate astigmatism better vision without glasses. Astigmatism, a common eye condition caused by an irregularly shaped cornea or lens, causes distorted or blurred vision. Other IOLs don’t correct astigmatism, so you might need glasses to correct it after cataract surgery. If you want better vision without glasses, a toric IOL could be for you.

With a toric IOL, you usually wear glasses for reading, computer work, and other close-up activities.

At our practice, we offer the Alcon Acrysof Toric Lens implant.

What does my insurance cover?

When cataracts are advanced enough and surgery is considered medically necessary, health insurance (including Medicare) covers cataract surgery with standard IOLs.

Does insurance cover the upgrade to premium lenses?

No. Health insurance (including Medicare) covers cataract surgery with standard IOLs when your cataracts are advanced enough that surgery is considered medically necessary. Multifocal and Toric IOLs offer the added convenience of reduced dependence on glasses after surgery. Insurance companies don’t consider this benefit a medical necessity, so they do not cover the upgrade to a premium IOL. They do cover the cost of surgery if cataract removal is medically necessary. Our office staff can answer any questions about insurance and payment options.

What are Limbal Relaxing Incisions?

Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI for short) are partial thickness incisions made at the outer (non-seeing) edge of the cornea called the limbus, in folks with astigmatism, in order to reduce or even eliminate their need for distance glasses or contacts.

The incisions are strategically placed at the limbus to “relax” the steepest part of the cornea’s curvature, making it more evenly round and thereby correct astigmatism.

LRI is often performed during surgery for cataracts or implantation of intraocular lenses, or can also be done following Corneal transplantation


Cataract Surgery in Lorton and Springfield, VA

Over 1.5 million patients have their cataracts removed every year in the United States. This makes cataract removal one of the most common procedures around. It has a high success rate and is very safe and effective. At the Eye MD, our patients often see clearly very soon after the surgery. We now offer premium intraocular lenses (IOLs) that can eliminate your dependence on contacts or glasses.

At the Eye MD, we are upfront about the procedure and are happy to answer any questions you have before we begin. If you’re in the Lorton or Springfield area and would like to consult about eye surgery, book an appointment online, call us at (571)-285-2020, or visit our office in Lorton, VA.