Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, but are fortunately correctable. Cataract surgery is the most common surgery for Americans over the age of 65. By the age of 65, 50% of individuals have developing cataracts.
- AGING – Once our vision begins to require glasses for reading the cataract process has begun, although in most cases the cataract is subclinical (your eye doctor cannot actually see the cataract) In some cases this process can be a few short months, while in other cases it may take up to 20 years for a full cataract to form. Cataracts are part of the normal aging process, which causes the normally clear lens of the eye to become cloudy.
- FROM BIRTH – This can be genetic or from infections while in the womb
- TRAUMATIC – Severe injuries to the eye can cause a cataract to form
- OXIDATION STRESSES – UV radiation, various medications, and toxic chemicals can all lead to cataract formation
Cataracts are the leading cause of visual loss in adults age 55 and older. A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. This lens is a clear, disc-shaped structure located behind the iris (the colored portion of the eye). The human lens acts much like the lens in a camera, focusing the images on the retina of the eye. The retina then transfers the visual image to the brain, which permits vision.
When a cataract develops, the lens becomes opaque or cloudy and vision may become impaired. Cataracts are most often a result of aging although anyone can get them from the various causes listed above. When the lens becomes cloudy and causes vision loss great enough to interfere with normal daily activities, surgical removal is required to improve vision.
Common symptoms of a cataract include:
- a painless blurring of vision;
- light sensitivity
- poor night vision
- double vision in one eye
- needing a brighter light to read
- colors looking faded or yellow
The cloudiness and pattern of a cataract can vary. If the cloudiness is to the side of your field of vision, you may not be aware that you have a cataract.
There are many misconceptions about cataracts. A cataract is not a film over the eye and does not spread from one eye to the other. How quickly a cataract progresses varies among individuals and may even differ between the two eyes. Most age-related cataracts progress gradually over a period of years.
Glasses or Contacts can be prescribed during the early stages of cataract formation to improve vision, however surgery is the only way to cure a cataract. Cataract surgery should be performed when your vision cannot be improved to an acceptable range with glasses or contacts. During cataract surgery your cloudy lens is removed from the eye and replaced with a permanent intraocular lens. New technology and surgical advancements have made cataract surgery a painless, outpatient procedure. Exciting new lens offerings provide options to patients as well, allowing cataract patients to see well at all distances without the help of glasses, bifocals or reading glasses.
We work side by side with board certified cataract surgeons to provide our patients with the best possible clinical care. Once we have determined that your cataracts have progressed to a point that cataract surgery is needed, we will gladly set up a consultation with one of the cataract surgeons that we recommend. After visiting with the cataract surgeon, your cataract surgery will be scheduled for a later date. Our physicians will then see you for the 1 week, 4 week, and 3 month (if needed) follow-up appointments to ensure that the eye is healing properly.
Following cataract surgery, your surgeon will give you a prescription for 3 eye drops. The drops and their associated schedules are listed below. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact one of our physicians or your cataract surgeon.