Doctor explains advances in cataract surgery

Published 5:14 pm Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Nineteen Health & Wellness hosts “Breakfast with the Doc” every other month, thereby offering an opportunity to learn about various health topics in a relaxed setting. On Aug. 14, several gathered in the conference room where a light breakfast was served and a presentation began by Dr. Price Kloess, M.D., a board certified ophthalmologist and former consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General. He and his partner Andrew Velaquez, M.D. have offices at One Nineteen Health & Wellness and Alabama Vision Center on Montclair Road in Birmingham. Surgery is performed at the latter location for now, but a suite at One Nineteen is coming soon.

Dr. Kloess described the anatomy of the eye using a slideshow.

“Everyone will get a cataract beginning at age 50, but not all need surgery,” he said.

Science has proven that ultraviolet light exposure precipitates cataract growth. Some studies show diet as a factor as well. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Surgery is a solution after symptoms increase to a point where activity is limited. Typically, with cataracts, night vision is impaired. Also, halos are seen around lights and vision dims from 20/40 to 20/50.

“Medical advances have been just incredible over the last 30 years,” Dr. Kloess said. “No longer does a patient lie in the hospital two weeks with sandbags beside his head.”

Cataract surgery is performed in an outpatient setting, using intravenous sedation, numbing eye drops and no stitches. Average surgery time is 10 minutes and recovery is quick. Most patients go back to usual activities immediately, with caution about lifting or rubbing eyes. One eye is corrected at a time.

These are manmade implants, and therefore disease transfer and rejection aren’t concerns. Implants with bifocal are available. Laser is never used in routine cataract surgery. The “after cataract” or capsulotomy does require YAG laser for cloudy capsules, but these are less common.

“The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends routine eye exams annually for all over age fifty,” said Dr. Kloess. “It’s better to remove cataracts early rather than late. Once the cataract hardens it’s difficult to remove.”

For an appointment at the One Nineteen location, call 991-2021.