WHAT ARE CATARACTS?
Your eye has a clear lens through which light passes allowing you to see. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye. The clouded lens distorts and blocks the passage of light to the retina, causing vision to be blurred. While cataracts can affect people of any age, they are most common in older adults. It is a natural part of the aging process.
CAUSES OF CATARACTS
Cataracts are typically caused from years of exposure to sunlight. In younger people they can result from an injury, certain medications, or illnesses such as diabetes. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light may also play a role in the formation of cataracts. Studies have also shown that people who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of developing cataracts than non-smokers.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts usually start as very small and practically unnoticeable but gradually grow larger and cloudier. Colors are duller and vision may grow fuzzy. Glare is bothersome in both bright sunlight and at night.
Although cataracts usually develop without apparent pain, some indications that a cataract may be forming are as follows:
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Double vision
- Poor vision in bright light
- Seeing halos around lights
- Yellowish tinged vision
- Night vision difficulty
It is important to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract’s progress is monitored. If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or perform everyday tasks like reading or work is difficult, then it’s time to discuss surgery with your doctor.
How to treat cataracts
Cataracts cannot be treated with medication or lasers. Surgery is still the only treatment option and one of the most common and reliable operations. Each year, more than a million people have their vision improved through cataract surgery. During surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a clear, artificial intraocular lens (IOL).
What is cataract surgery like?
Cataract surgery is relatively painless and is one of the most frequently performed procedures. It has a very high success rate and more than 90 percent of cataract surgery patients regain useful vision.
In order to treat cataracts, your doctor uses a microscope and small instruments to make an incision and remove the old lens. Depending on the condition of the lens, it will either be removed in one piece or broken apart with soundwaves (ultrasound). The pieces will then be removed. The natural membrane (capsule) that held your lens is left in place.
Once your old lens has been removed, your doctor inserts the new lens (IOL) through the incision. The IOL is then positioned in the capsule that held your old lens. With the new lens in place, your doctor is ready to close the incision. In most cases, the incision is self-sealing (no-stitch). That means it will stay closed on its own without stitches. Sometimes, however, a stitch may be needed.
We also offer newer lens implants that allow patients to see both near and far following surgery by correcting for presbyopia or astigmatism.