Cataract Surgery: Then and Now

Cataracts are a common eye problem, especially in seniors. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, more than 50% of Americans have had at least one cataract by the age of 80. A cataract’s main symptoms include blurry vision, sensitivity to light and poor night vision due to the build up of protein which cloud the lens in the eye.

Today, cataract treatment is relatively simple. According to Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, cataracts treatments began to change significantly in the 1980s, shifting from in-patient to out-patient procedures.

“For the next decade, those of us on the “cutting edge” of cataract surgery in Hollywood were doing cataract surgery by a procedure called Extracapsular Cataract Extraction,” Dr. Alan Mendelsohn explains. This procedure was a step above the old methods, but it still required significant stitching and a long rest period throughout recovery.

“While moving cataract surgery to an out-patient basis was considered revolutionary at the time,” he continues, “an even bigger milestone transpired with the transformation of cataract surgery in the mid to late 1990’s to a highly improved technology called Phacoemulcification (phaco).” Phaco allows for only tiny incisions to be made at the surgery site, eliminating the need for stitches. As a result, recovery is much quicker and the risk of infection lower.

According to Dr. Mendelsohn, technological advances in cataract surgery are rapid. The playing field changed again over the last ten years with the “arrival of the multifocal ReStor IOL. With the ReStor IOL, we can generally correct most patients’ cataracts and enable them to see near, far, and everywhere in between without the aid of glasses or contact lenses.” In fact, Mendelsohn underwent such a surgery himself in 2014, and has been living without glasses since.

“Of course, I practice what I preach and always wear sunglasses with UV400 blocker and polarization outdoors during daylight hours for ocular protection!” he says.