Cataracts are clusters or buildups of proteins that form on the lens of the eye. Cataracts develop over time, eventually clouding the lens and impairing vision. Without treatment, cataracts can lead to total vision loss.
At his Harlingen, TX, eye clinic, Dr. Raul Peña performs cataract surgery to treat this eye disease and restore the vision. During treatment, the lens affected by the cataract is completely removed and an intraocular lens (IOL) is put in its place. This effective technique has evolved from a long history of cataract surgery.
Earliest Cataract Surgery
Today’s cataract surgery techniques are highly advanced, using ultrasound technology and involving the complete removal and replacement of affected lenses. Given the complex nature of this procedure, many would assume that cataract surgery is fairly new. While today’s cataract surgery relies on new advances and techniques, the procedure itself is one of the oldest surgical procedures.
There is evidence of cataract surgery being performed as far back as the 5th century BC. Of course, the surgeries at this time differ greatly than those available to our Harlingen patients today. In ancient times, cataract surgery involved a technique called couching. Couching relied on blunt force trauma to break up the lens of the eye so that it would be absorbed into the vitreous gel. Couching could only be performed after the lens of the eye became completely opaque and rigid. This primitive technique must have been painful, and it restored limited and unfocused vision at best.
Over the years, cataract surgery evolved beyond the couching technique. Centuries after couching was introduced, surgeons used sharp needles to pierce the eye and break up the affected lens. Again, success was limited, and the technique often led to complications.
In 1747, French ophthalmologist Jacques Daviel is credited as performing the first extracapsular cataract extraction. During this procedure a small incision was made in the eye and a needle was inserted through the incision to break up and remove the lens. This was a great improvement over the couching technique, but still had the potential for severe complications.
Not long after the first extracapsular cataract extraction, surgeon Samuel Sharp performed the first intracapsular cataract extraction in 1753. This technique involved creating a small incision and then removing the lens of the eye as well as the surrounding capsule. This allowed the lens to be removed in one piece, rather than having to be broken up.
Introduction of Intraocular Lenses
Removing a lens that is affected by cataracts is helpful, but patients were still forced to rely on thick prescription lenses that only provided limited vision correction. It was the invention of intraocular lenses (IOLs) that truly changed the outcomes of cataract surgery. IOLs were first introduced to the market in London in 1949.
IOLs are placed after the removal of the eye’s lens. These artificial lenses essentially act like permanent contact lenses. They sit over the eye and refract light waves so they can be focused by the retina. IOLs took cataract surgery to the next level by vastly improving a patient’s vision.
Cataract Surgery Today
Today, our Harlingen patients benefit from the most advanced cataract surgery techniques. Dr. Peña uses ultrasound energy to break up the lens of the eye so it can be safely extracted. The lens is replaced with a flexible, silicone IOL that is multifocal, meaning it allows patients to see at all distances. This procedure offers extremely high success rates with minimal risk of complications. Most patients recover from their procedure fairly quickly and are able to enjoy clear vision with little to no reliance on prescription lenses.
Schedule Your Appointment
If your vision has been compromised by cataracts, Dr. Raul Peña can talk to you about how cataract surgery can restore clear vision. To find out more about our advanced surgical techniques, call (956) 264-1200 or send us a message online to schedule an appointment.