Scott Seo, M.D., Ph.D.

Eye Surgeon & Physician

Comprehensive Ophthalmology

and Cataract Surgery



Fairfield Ophthalmology

Old location:
1300 Post Road
Fairfield, CT  

203.254.8050

F 203.254.8051

We moved
to our Bridgeport
office

 

Our location:

Merritt Medical Center
3715 Main Street #309
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Ph 203.372.4211
Fax 203.372.4142

 

 

Cataract

  • What is a cataract? Inside your eye, light is focused by a crystalline lens, about the size of a small M&M, that is located behind the pupil of the eye.  As the eye ages, the lens grows, hardens, and turns a different color.  This usually happens around the age of 50-60 years.  It usually happens in both eyes at the same time. With continued aging, the lens gets bigger and darker, which decreases the quality of vision. In short, normally everybody over the age of 50 will have cataracts.
  • How will I know cataracts are affecting my vision? It usually takes about a decade or so for cataracts to noticeably hinder vision.  Driving at night or seeing in darkened rooms gets harder.  Reading small print becomes more difficult, even with glasses. Colors may be off.  Sometimes, it is difficult for patients to know if cataracts are affecting vision because change usually happens simultaneously in both eyes and slowly over many years.  The mind gets used to diminished vision. The best way, of course, to know the status of your cataracts is to get an eye exam.
  • What can be done about cataracts? With early stage cataracts, vision is mildly affected, if at all.  Best thing to do at this early stage is to live your life in a healthy way.  Eat right, exercise, use sunglasses outdoors, and quit smoking.  Have your eyes examined and glass prescription checked regularly (interval decided by the eye doctor).  With moderate-grade cataracts, vision is likely affected to some degree.  If vision is mildy affected, then observation is appropriate.  If diminished vision is hindering daily activities (driving, reading, hobbies, sports, etc.), one or both cataracts may need to be removed surgically.
  • How are cataracts removed? Cataracts are removed by ophthalmologists using specialized surgical instruments and machines in an operating room.  Contrary to popular myth, they are not removed by lasers (although some surgeons are now using lasers to assist with certain steps of the surgery).  It is a two-part procedure.  The first step is to remove the cataract using tiny instruments inserted through tiny incisions in the cornea (the "clear part" of the eye).  The second step is to insert a tiny artificial lens implant inside the eye that takes the place of the cataract that was removed.  The power of the artificial lens implant (by using special equipment to measure the eye prior to the operation) can be adjusted to focus the eye for distance, and thus hopefully allowing the patient to see far away without glasses (although this cannot be guaranteed for a variety of reasons).  Reading glasses are almost always required after the surgery.  Please note that here I am referring to the "monofocal" artificial lens that ophthalmologist have been implanting for over 30 years. Optically speaking, the monofocal lens is hard to beat.  However, other types of artificial lens implants are available (each with their own advantages and disadvantages versus the monofocal implant).
  • If it is time to remove a cataract, who should do the surgery? Often I am asked by a patient with cataracts that need removing, "So, do you do the surgery, doctor?" Some patients know that I do the surgery, but they ask the question to see if I respond in a manner that gives them confidence that I can perform the operation in a competent manner. I feel this is an absolutely appropriate subject to bring up with any surgeon regardless of specialty, and for that reason, I will discuss it here. The question of who should perform cataract surgery has been studied in the academic journals. Generally, in my (perhaps biased) opinion the following surgeon is one you may want as your cataract surgeron:
    • Someone who has performed a reasonable number of cataract surgeries. It appears the minimum number is about 250.
    • Someone who has trained in a residency program that teaches cataract surgery well. Or, who has gained the appropriate expertise in private/university practice.
    • Someone who appropriately diagnoses you with a cataract that requires removal. Some surgeons have a rather low threshold to recommend removal. On the other hand, some surgeons wait too long.
    • Someone who has good hands for eye surgery. Talent helps.
    • Someone who will see you before the surgery. Every patient is unique, and thus may have a cataract that requires a different approach -- this may only be discovered on examination before the surgery.
    • Someone who will see you after the surgery. If you should have a problem that develops after the surgery, wouldn't you want to see your surgeon?
    • Someone who takes the time to examine you and answer your questions about the surgery. If a surgeon is seeing 60 to 90 patients in the office in a single day, how much time can she (or he) possibly spend with you? (Answer: Not much.)
    • Someone who devotes the appropriate time to perform your surgery. You probably do not want to be #20 out of 20 surgeries peformed by the same surgeon on a single day.

As you may guess, I happen to be a cataract surgeon that fits the "someone" above (I made this list, after all).  It reminds of that scene from the "The Right Stuff" when the Mercury astronauts were asked who would be the first one in Space.  Everyone raised his hand.  And this is probably the most important quality any surgeon possesses:  The confidence and belief (grounded in reality, hopefully) that she (or he) is the best person to do the job for that particular patient who is on the operating table.