Swedish provides advanced treatment for all kinds of vision problems — including cataracts. Our surgical facilities are fully equipped and state-of-the-art. And our highly skilled ophthalmic surgeons, nurses and technicians bring a high level of experience and teamwork to every surgical procedure.
Appointments & Referrals
To schedule a routine eye exam, or consult with a physician about surgery, contact a Swedish ophthalmologist.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouded area that forms within the normally clear lens of the eye. Cataracts block the passage of light into the eye, resulting in blurred vision.
What causes cataracts?
Nobody really knows. What medical scientists can confirm, however, is that there is a change in the chemical composition of the eye that corresponds with cataract formation. Most of the time, this chemical change occurs as part of the aging process. However, cataracts can also appear in connection with eye injuries, the use of certain medications, smoking, ultraviolet light exposure, infections and diseases such as diabetes.
Who gets cataracts?
While cataracts are often associated with aging, there is no hard and fast rule as to who gets them. They can form in adults as early as age 40. They can also affect babies and small children. In some cases, they are hereditary.
Is treatment necessary?
If a cataract is interfering with the quality of your life and affecting basic daily functions such as reading and driving, your ophthalmologist will probably recommend that it be removed. However, cataracts often take years to develop and may not bother you for some time.
If a cataract has matured to the point that the lens of your eye is completely opaque, the cataract may swell and disintegrate inside the eye. When this occurs, immediate treatment may be necessary to preserve your vision. In the case of congenital cataracts, which appear in babies and small children, early removal is generally recommended to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
What are the treatment options?
A change in your eyeglass prescription may improve your vision temporarily. Surgery, however, is the only way to actually remove a cataract.
Does a cataract spread to the other eye when treatment is postponed?
No. Cataracts do not spread. However, they may develop in both eyes at the same time.
What's involved in cataract surgery?
Using a tiny surgical incision, the ophthalmologist removes the cloudy lens from the eye and replaces it with an artificial lens. General or local anesthesia may be used.
How safe is cataract surgery?
Cataract removal is one of the most successful surgical procedures done today. With a greater than 90 percent success rate, the benefits of surgery clearly outweigh the risks. Most people who've undergone cataract surgery report significantly improved vision.
Are there any complications from cataract surgery?
Complications may occur, but the vast majority are minor and treatable. Sometimes after surgery, the capsule that holds the new lens becomes cloudy, causing a condition called "after-cataract." After-cataract is often treated with an ophthalmic laser in a procedure that takes just a few minutes.
How long can I expect the surgery to last?
Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
Will the operation fully restore vision?
People with otherwise healthy eyes will usually enjoy improved vision following cataract removal. If you have additional eye problems, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or damage from diabetes, you will still have those problems following cataract surgery.
How much discomfort should I expect after surgery and in the days to follow?
As with any surgical procedure, you may experience some minor discomfort after having a cataract removed. Your ophthalmologist may prescribe a mild pain medication to help you recover more comfortably.
What happens after surgery?
You'll most likely go home after a short stay in the recovery area of the Swedish Eye Center. Once home, you'll be able to resume normal daily activities almost immediately, but you should not do anything too strenuous until your eye has healed.
Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
Patients typically will require reading glasses. Some will also need glasses to improve their distance vision.
Will I need any follow-up visits?
Your ophthalmologist will probably want to see you the day after surgery and again for regular checkups to monitor your healing.
What will be different after cataract surgery?
Many of the people who have undergone cataract surgery report an improved outlook on life, as well as improved vision. For some, removing the cataract also removed an obstacle that prevented them from enjoying life's simplest pleasures — like driving, playing golf or just reading a book.