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Eye Consultants of Colorado

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Cataract Exam & Management

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Cataracts Are Not a Prescription for Blurry Vision. They Can be Diagnosed, Treated, and Removed

Most cataracts are related to aging. By age 80, more than half of Americans will have cataracts or will have already had cataract removal surgery.  Cataract surgery is one of the most popular procedures performed in the United States today.

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

Symptoms of Cataracts

Cataracts often develop without pain. Symptoms include:

  • Cloudy, blurry, hazy vision
  • Colors seem faded or washed out; difficulty seeing certain colors, like dark blue and purples
  • Impaired night vision
  • Glare from light sources, such as headlights or table lamps
Diagnosing Cataracts

During a comprehensive eye exam we will perform several tests that will indicate the development of a cataract, including:

  • Visual acuity test – This test measures how well your eyes see at various distances
  • Tonometry – This test measures eye pressure
  • Dilated eye exam – Your pupils are dilated, enabling us to use our equipment to examine your retinas and optic nerve.
Treating Cataracts

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.

Next Steps

More Information About Cataract Removal Surgery

The two types of cataract removal surgery

There are two types of surgery available to remove cataracts:

  • Phacoemulsification – Often referred to simply as “phaco” surgery. In this procedure, a small incision is made on the side of the cornea. A tiny probe is then inserted into the eye, emitting ultrasound waves that break up the lens. The lens is then removed via suction.
  • Extracapsular – In this procedure, a larger incision in the cornea is made so that the cloudy lens can be removed in one piece.

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.

What to expect before/during/after surgery

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.

Rare complications from surgery

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.

How cataracts affect vision

Cataracts typically present two main sets of symptoms:

  • Clumps of protein reduce the amount of light reaching the retina. In this case, the clumped protein gradually reduces visual acuity in the affected eye. Most cataracts are of this nature.
  • The lens tints a yellow or brownish color. This can be hard to notice, though over time it will begin to have a meaningful impact on your vision. It can make it difficult to read or discern colors.
Causes of Cataracts

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.