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Ask the Expert: Cataracts

​ Philip M. Smith, M.D.
Philip M. Smith, M.D.
Sees patients at Marshfield Clinic.

Question: What is a cataract, and how do you treat it?​

When you develop a cataract on the lens of an eye, it clouds the lens and results in poor vision.

To treat it, we use specialized instruments to break apart and remove the lens, then replace it with a new synthetic lens. This is where you now have many options, depending on your specific vision situation.

For some people, traditional monofocal lenses are fine; they improve your distance vision but require you to use reading glasses.

Next in line are the newer multifocal and accommodating lenses which work in different ways to adjust and accommodate for varying vision distances.

The newest premium “toric” lenses provide distance vision correction for patients who have difficulty focusing due to astigmatism, a condition resulting from a change in the shape of the cornea.

Most people will get cataracts at some time in their lives. They most commonly affect people in their 60s and 70s, but I have operated on people as young as 29 and as old as 97.

We have placed all of the lenses mentioned here, and patients have been very satisfied with them.​

Marshfield Clinic provides eye care services​ in a number of our centers. Your primary care doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialty and location or you may contact an eye care location near you. ​​