What is a Cataract?
Everyone is susceptible to cataracts. They affect over 24 million people in the U.S. and are wide spread among people age 55 and older.
Though most people have heard of cataracts, not everyone knows exactly what they are. Contrary to popular belief, they are not a film growing over your eye. A cataract is a clouding of the eye that prevents light from passing to the retina. Proteins shed from your eye’s lens and gather to form clouded spots. These old cells become compacted into the center of the lens, preventing light and images from reaching the retina. This can cause obscured or blurred vision, similar to looking through a foggy window.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, you’re not alone – they’re a natural part of the aging process. However, they can also be caused by long-term ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, trauma to the eye and as secondary effects of diseases such as diabetes. Unfortunately, cataracts aren’t preventable, but with more than 3 million procedures performed each year, cataract surgery is not only one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S., but also one of the most successful. If left untreated, the clouded area in your lens will only continue to grow. The speed at which cataracts develop varies, but eventually your entire lens can become clouded, which could lead to blindness.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision impairment in the United States. However, because cataracts form slowly and over a long period of time, many people suffer from this condition without ever realizing it. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you may have cataracts:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Halos around light
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Poor night vision
- Colors appear dull or washed out
- Although you keep changing your prescription, your glasses don’t help your vision anymore
- Double vision in a single eye
- Needing more light to read
How do I get rid of my cataracts?
When cataracts are in their early stages, you may be able to manage the problem with an updated prescription to your glasses or contact lenses. But as they develop, your loss of vision may start to interfere with how you enjoy everyday activities, like reading or driving.
The only way to truly correct vision is to have cataract surgery to remove your clouded lens and insert a replacement lens.
Our doctors will help determine whether you are an ideal candidate for cataract surgery. They will assess your current eye health and review your medical history to make sure you don’t have pre-existing conditions that would rule out the procedure.
Cataracts are not preventable, but you can take control of cataracts and correct your vision with cataract surgery. Most people are surprised to learn just how easy and relatively pain-free cataract surgery is. It is an outpatient surgery and usually takes an hour or less.
Cataract surgery can offer an opportunity to correct other vision problems you may have, such as astigmatism or presbyopia and our doctors will help you determine which lens is right for you based on your eyes, your visual needs and your lifestyle.
What to expect during cataract surgery
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that will only take about 10 minutes to perform. On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the surgery center about an hour prior to your surgery time. Nurses greet you and prepare you for your surgical experience. You are able to stay in your own clothes and you will receive sedation to keep you comfortable. We make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed before we move into the operating room.
After the procedure
After your cataract surgery is complete, you will probably rest in the postoperative room for about an hour. You will receive prescription medications; such as antibiotic or anti-inflammatory eye drops, as well as instructions on how to care for your eyes.
Most patients notice a significant improvement within 24 hours after cataract surgery. After surgery, your brain continues to learn how to work with your new lens, and your vision should be optimal at six months. As part of your regular health care routine, you should have a complete eye exam with your regular eye doctor every year to ensure there are no new problems.