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A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye. Normally, light passes through the clear lens and is focused on the retina. However, as a result of the normal aging process or other factors, the lens becomes cloudy. This blocks light from passing through the lens and causes blurry or distorted vision. It can also cause glare, halos, spears on lights or double vision.

When a cataract first begins to develop the vision can sometimes be improved by a change in the glasses prescription.  Eventually the cataract may become cloudy enough that glasses don’t help and cataract surgery is required.  Dr. Harkins has many years of experience performing cataract surgery.  She uses a small incision/no stitch technique to restore vision loss due to cataracts.  This surgery is most often performed using topical anesthetic and IV sedation thus avoiding the risk and discomfort of an injection around the eye.  This outpatient surgery is performed at the Grand Island Surgery Center.

The cloudy lens is removed using ultrasound technology (phacoemulsification) through a small incision.  It is then replaced with an intraocular lens made of plastic, silicone or acrylic material.  There are many options for lens implants, Dr. Harkins will discuss this when surgery is scheduled.  Following cataract surgery, there are few restrictions and you will be able to resume your normal activities almost immediately.  Most people who wear bifocals or reading glasses for near vision may still need to wear glasses after surgery for reading and in some cases for distance.  Eye drops are needed before and after surgery to prevent infection and help the eye heal properly.  Follow up examinations will also be required.

As with any surgery, complications can occur and rarely can limit vision.  However, more than 1.4 million cataracts are removed in the United States each year and 95% have no complications.  It is one of the safest and most successful surgeries performed today.

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