Cataracts & Presbyopia

Hazy, blurred, vision?

If you have noticed frequent changes in your vision, dull faded colors and a glare or “halos” around lights you may be suffering from cataracts. Let our board-certified surgeons help you regain your sight. For most patients, cataract surgery is a relatively simple outpatient operation. Contact us today for your evaluation.

Locations in Greenville and Spartanburg 864-522-3900

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a “clouding” of the eye’s natural, crystalline lens. In a normal eye light passes through the lens and is focused on the retina – the light-sensitive area located at the back of the eye that transmits images to the brain. To help produce sharp images, the lens must remain clear. When the lens becomes cloudy, it can interfere with vision and ultimately an individual’s daily lifestyle. Simply put, it is like trying to see the world through a foggy window.

Example of how light passes through the lens, and is diffused or scattered on the retina. When a cataract is present, the result is blurred or defocused vision.

Many cataracts take time to develop and do not disturb eyesight early on. As the cloudiness progresses, the cataract can begin to impair vision, making it more difficult to see objects clearly. For instance, sharp images become blurred, bright colors become dull or seeing at night is more difficult. It also may be why reading glasses or bifocals used to assist with reading, or with other simple tasks, no longer seem to help.

A cataract is not a “film” over the eye, and neither diet nor lasers will make it go away. The best way to treat a cataract is to remove the old, clouded lens and provide a replacement.

Incidence and prevalence of cataracts and cataract surgery

According to the Archives of Ophthalmology, more than 20 million adults in the U.S. have cataracts, making it the number one cause of poor vision in the U.S. In fact, more than half of Americans age 65 and older have a cataract, and it is thought that nearly everyone will develop one if they live long enough. Although cataracts do not discriminate between varying demographic groups, women have a significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence of cataracts than men in the United States.

  1. Prevalence of Cataract and Pseudophakia/Aphakia Among Adults in the United States. Archives of Ophthalmology: April 2004.
  2. Eye Disease Information and Resources: Cataract Fact Sheet. Women’s Eye Health Task Force: Schepens Eye Research Institute, Inc; 2003

Cataract surgeons

Catherine Baston, MD
General ophthalmology
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Dr. Baston trained at The Ohio State University where she began performing cataract surgeries in 2008. The faculty at OSU includes Dr Thomas Mauger, Dr Fred Davidorf, and Dr Paul Weber, and Dr Steven Katz. After completing her residency program, she moved to El Paso, Texas. In 2010, El Paso was the 4th most populated city in Texas and was federally designated as a medically underserved area. Dr Baston performed several hundred surgeries in the first year after her training. Since moving to Greenville, SC in November 2012, she has continued with her enthusiasm and precision with each patient and each surgery.

Alan B. Leahey, MD
Cornea & external disease
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Dr. Leahey has been performing small incision cataract surgery since 1992. He spent 22 years as a partner in a large ophthalmology group in Pennsylvania and was the founding partner and President in a ophthalmology surgical center that utilized all the latest technology for cataract surgery. Dr. Leahey did his residency in ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania and a fellowship in Corneal and external disease at The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. During that fellowship year he was trained by Walter Stark, MD in numerous IOL surgeries for the most difficult cataract cases. Dr. Leahey came to Prisma Health to be Chief of ophthalmology in July of 2014.

Cataract causes

In more than 90 percent of cases, cataracts are caused by the natural aging process. Eye injury, certain diseases or even some medications are known to cause cataracts. Other potential risk factors are smoking, diabetes and excessive sun exposure.

Cataract symptoms

  • Hazy or blurred vision.
  • Dull and faded colors.
  • Glare and “halos.” Sunlight, lamps or headlights may appear too bright or glaring. A halo may appear around lights.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Inability to see to drive at night.
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye (this symptom often goes away as the cataract grows).
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.

Although most cataracts are related to aging, they also can develop in one of the following four ways:

  • Secondary cataract: Cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma. Steroid use and or other health conditions such as diabetes also can increase the risk of developing cataracts.
  • Traumatic cataract: Cataracts can develop soon after an eye surgery, or even years later.
  • Congenital cataract: Cataracts can form at birth or early in childhood. If these cataracts are large enough to affect vision, the natural crystalline lenses may need to be removed.
  • Radiation cataract: Cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.

Cataract diagnosis

Only an eye care professional, performing a comprehensive eye exam, can confirm the presence of a cataract. Generally, the first test conducted is for visual acuity. Visual acuity generally is measured using eye charts that assess an individual’s ability to see letters, numbers or other shapes at a distance. The most common eye chart used in doctors’ offices to measure distance visual acuity is the Snellen chart, a series of letters or letters and numbers with the largest at the top. The Rosenbaum PocketVision Screener is used to measure near visual acuity. Other tests may be required to diagnose a cataract, including exams for:

  • Contrast sensitivity.
  • Glare sensitivity.
  • Macular function, which can assist the surgeon in determining acute vision outcomes.

Cataract prevention

As ultraviolet rays are harmful to the eye just like they are to the skin, it is important that eyes are protected from these rays because they can accelerate the development of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses or a hat with a brim can lessen a person’s exposure and may help to delay the onset of cataracts. Smoking is a risk factor for developing cataracts: smokers are encouraged to quit.

A healthy diet also has been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts. Researchers recommend eating foods with antioxidants such as green leafy vegetables and fruit.

A comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years is recommended for people 60 or older to check for vision disorders. Studies have shown that early treatment for many eye diseases may save people’s sight.

Cataract treatment

In the early stages of cataracts, stronger lighting and eyeglasses may lessen vision problems caused by the clouding of the lens. Unfortunately, cataracts are progressive and cannot be prevented. So, once a cataract impacts an individual’s quality of life and has matured to the point of interfering with his or her ability to perform daily tasks, surgery may be a necessary step to improve their vision.

Cataract surgery has undergone tremendous technological advances in recent years. In fact, cataract surgery has become one of the safest, most common, and most effective types of surgery. Each year, nearly three million cataract surgeries are performed in the United States.

For most patients, cataract surgery is a relatively simple operation. It typically is an outpatient procedure that requires patients to spend just a few hours at the site. Also, it involves little discomfort for patients as their eyes will be treated with an anesthetic.

The actual procedure involves the surgeon making a tiny incision in the eye. Through this incision, the surgeon inserts an instrument about the size of a pen tip that breaks up and gently removes the cloudy lens. Once the clouded lens has been removed, it is replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL).

Although cataract surgery with a typical IOL is effective for getting rid of the cataract, most people still have to wear reading glasses or bifocals after the procedure. This is because most IOLs are monofocal and provide patients with only one focal point, most commonly far away. Fortunately, a revolutionary lens, AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL, addresses this by providing cataract patients a range of quality vision, greatly reducing their reliance on glasses for daily activities.

After the surgery is completed, patients are required to rest for a short time and then are allowed to go home. Within the next 24 hours, the surgeon most likely will want to see the patient for an evaluation. Drops will be prescribed to guard against infection and help the eyes heal. For a few days, patients may need to wear a clear shield, especially at night, to prevent them from rubbing their eyes.1 Generally, most patients can resume normal activities the day following the procedure.

Femtosecond laser

Prisma Health Eye Institute physicians employ the latest technology for small incision Cataract Surgery. Many options exist today that are add on benefits with modern cataract surgery such as Premium IOL’s such as multifocal or toric IOL’s to reduce dependency or the need for glasses for near and or distance vision. The Femtosecond Laser can also be used precise laser incisions in the cornea and the capsule of the lens to give a more accurate refractive result with cataract surgery. Additional fees above insurance coverage required for the non covered services with cataract surgery.