A cataract forms when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy. They form in anyone, and are fairly common in people in their 40’s and 50’s, though they are significantly more common in people age 60 and up.
Anyone can develop cataracts, and the risk increases as we age. However, there are risk factors that can influence cataract development. These risk factors include: diabetes, smoking/alcohol use, and prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV radiation.
Cataract surgery is a safe and relatively routine procedure, with a postoperative success rate somewhere north of 98%. If you want to discuss having your cataracts treated, please visit us for an eye exam so we can assess your eyes.
Important Information About Cataracts
Cataracts often develop without pain. Symptoms include:
During a comprehensive eye exam we will perform several tests that will indicate the development of a cataract, including:
The treatment for cataracts depends on its level of development. If caught early, it will likely be treated with new eyeglasses or corrective lenses utilizing anti-glare technology.
When the cataract starts interfering with your daily activities, such as your ability to drive or read, surgical removal becomes an option.
There are two types of cataract surgery (explained below). During our testing we will determine which is appropriate for you, and then provide the appropriate referral to an Ophthalmologist.
If both eyes have cataracts and require surgery, they will be done individually approximately eight weeks apart.
There are two types of surgery available to remove cataracts:
In both versions of the procedure, an intraocular lens (IOL) is then inserted in place of the lens that was removed. You will not feel or see the new lens; it performs the same function as your old lens.
Approximately one week prior to your surgery, we will measure the curve of the cornea and the size and shape of your eye. This information informs which IOL that is used in place of your lens.
On the day of your surgery, your eye will again be dilated and washed. An anesthetic will be used to numb the eye and surrounding tissues. Most people are awake during surgery, though you can be put to sleep for a short time if necessary. The surgery itself will take right around an hour and is mostly painless.
After surgery, you will be given an eye patch. You are generally safe to go home same day, though you will need to arrange transportation as you will not be able to drive.
You may experience some side effects, such as light sensitivity and fluid discharge. After a few days, most discomfort from surgery will be gone. Eye drops will be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection; you will need to wear an eye shield or eyeglasses to protect the eye. It will take about eight weeks to heal.
We will meet with you during the recovery period to examine the eye to ensure that everything is healing as it should be.
Problems after surgery are rare. These problems can include infection, bleeding, inflammation (pain, redness, swelling), loss of vision, double vision, and high or low eye pressure.
With prompt medical attention, these problems can usually be treated successfully. Visit us if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Cataracts typically present two main sets of symptoms:
The eye’s lens is composed primarily of water and protein. The protein is arranged in such a way that the lens is clear. Over time, protein clumps together. This begins to have a noticeable impact on your vision, creating cloudy or blurry spots.
UV radiation has been shown to also influence the development of cataracts. Protecting your eyes with UV-blocking lenses, found in most eyeglasses and sunglasses, is an effective way to minimize UV exposure.
Of course, the most significant cause of cataracts is aging.