Cataracts, Lenses & Laser Eye Treatment Vocabulary

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  • 0:01 Foggy Vision
  • 0:30 Cataracts and Lenses
  • 2:30 Laser Treatments
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Sound waves, light waves, and just plain surgery can all be used to correct your vision. Whether it's the famous LASIK or phacoemulsification, this lesson defines many of these corrective procedures that help a person see better.

Foggy Vision

Have you ever steamed up the shower so much that you could barely see outside of the window in the bathroom? That's what people with cataracts see. This kind of foggy or hazy scene. Cataracts are just a cloudiness to the lens of the eye, the thing that helps your eyes focus on objects near or far.

Why don't we define some procedures related to the lenses and other structures of your eye?

Cataracts & Lenses

If a cataract is severe enough, then a lensectomy can be performed to help the patient see better. A lensectomy is the surgical removal of the lens, where '-ectomy' refers to the surgical removal of something out of the body. The eye's natural lens is then replaced with an artificial one.

Such a surgically-implanted, artificial, replacement lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). It's typically made of plastic or silicone. By the way, 'intra-' means within and 'ocular' refers to the eye.

Interestingly enough, there is actually a term for an eye that has had an IOL put in. A condition where an eye has an intraocular lens that has replaced the natural lens is called pseudophakia, from 'pseudo-,' which means false or fake, and '-phak,' which means lens.

'Phak-' (with a 'k') is just another version of 'phac(o)-,' as in phacoemulsification, a specific kind of procedure where ultrasonic vibrations shatter the lens into very small pieces that are then suctioned out of the eye. Yep, your eye is kind of vacuumed up a little bit after the lens is shattered by sound waves.

Obviously, all of these procedures and implants help a patient see better much like corrective lenses do. Corrective lenses don't require any type of surgery; they're just worn in front of the eye, either as glasses or contact lenses. There are many different kinds of corrective lenses.

  • Concave lenses, the ones that are curved inward, help people with nearsightedness
  • Convex lenses, the ones that are curved outward, help people with farsightedness
  • Bifocals have two refractive powers, for near and far vision
  • Trifocals have three refractive powers, for far, intermediate, and near vision

Laser Treatments

If you thought that using sound waves to obliterate the lens was cool, then wait till you hear what we're about to define. It's all sorts of laser treatments of the eyes!

Lasers can be used to create openings and reshape parts in the eye to treat a wide swath of problems. For example, glaucoma can be treated with something like laser iridotomy, the creation of an opening in the iris for the treatment of closed-angle glaucoma. 'Irido-' refers to the iris and '-otomy' means a surgical incision or cutting operation.

Glaucoma can also be treated using a laser trabeculoplasty, a procedure that creates openings in the trabecular meshwork in order to treat open-angle glaucoma. '-plasty' is a suffix for the surgical repair or molding of a body part. Overall, what you should grasp from this is that both of these procedures aim to improve the outflow of excess fluid building up pressure within the eye, which is what glaucoma is to begin with.

Lasers can also be used to treat wet macular degeneration. A case in point is photocoagulation, a process where leaking or damaged blood vessels are sealed shut with the help of a laser.

Lasers can also be used to treat problems with the retina, the part of your eye that captures light and converts it into a biochemical signal your brain can interpret. One such procedure is called a retinopexy, a procedure that reattaches the retina in a case of retinal detachment.

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