What is a cataract?


A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which can lead to vision problems. The most common type of cataract is related to aging. More than half of all Americans over the age of 65 will have a cataract. Most cataracts are caused by the functions of the body breaking down. Eye trauma, such as from a puncture wound, may also result in cataracts.

Cataracts are classified as one of three types:

A nuclear cataract is most commonly seen as it forms. This cataract forms in the nucleus, the center of the lens, and is due to natural aging changes.

A cortical cataract, which forms in the lens cortex, gradually extends its spokes from the outside of the lens to the center. Many diabetics develop cortical cataracts.

A subcapsular cataract begins at the back of the lens. People with diabetes, high farsightedness, retinitis pigmentosa or those taking high doses of steroids may develop a subcapsular cataract.


 





 





 

What are the symptoms?


A cataract starts out small, and at first has little effect on your vision. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy piece of glass. Colors may not appear as bright as they once did

The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

Cloudy or blurry vision.

Problems with light, such as headlights that seem too bright, glare from lamps or very bright sunlight.

Colors that seem faded.

Poor night vision.

Double or multiple vision.
 
Frequent changes in glasses or contact lenses.

 





 





 

How is a cataract treated?


When symptoms begin to appear, you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids.

Think about surgery when your cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair your vision and affect your daily life. Many people consider poor vision an inevitable fact of aging, but cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision.

Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, with over 1.5 million cataract surgeries done each year. Nine out of 10 people who have cataract surgery regain very good vision, somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40.

During surgery, the surgeon will remove your clouded lens, and in most cases replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL). New IOLs are being developed all the time to make the surgery less complicated for surgeons and the lenses more helpful to patients.

Most patients can resume daily activities almost immediately after surgery; however, vision may be blurry. The eye needs time to heal and adjust so that it can focus properly with the other eye. Follow-up visits to the clinic are scheduled to evaluate progress
 





 





 

What Causes a Cataract?


No one knows for sure why the eye's lens changes as we age, forming cataracts. Researchers are gradually identifying factors that may cause cataracts — and information that may help to prevent them.

Many studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet light is associated with cataract development, so eyecare practitioners recommend wearing UV sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to lessen your exposure.

Other studies suggest people with diabetes are at risk for developing a cataract. The same goes for users of steroids, diuretics and major tranquilizers, but more studies are needed to distinguish the effect of the disease from the consequences of the drugs themselves.

Some believe that a diet high in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene (vitamin A), selenium and vitamins C and E, may forestall cataract development. Meanwhile, eating a lot of salt may increase your risk.

Other risk factors may include cigarette smoke, air pollution and heavy alcohol consumption. A small study published in 2002 found lead exposure to be a risk factor; another study in December 2004, of 795 men age 60 and older, came to a similar conclusion. But larger studies are needed to confirm whether lead can definitely put you at risk, and if so, whether the risk is from a one-time dose at a particular time in life or from chronic exposure over years.
 





 





 

Can I be too young or old for Cataract Surgery?


Any patient who can undergo a thorough eye examination can undergo surgery if the procedure is performed with a topical anesthetic-drops alone.

 





 





 

How soon can I drive after the surgery?


We will require that you have someone drive you home following your procedure and recommend that you wait to begin driving until after your follow up appointment the next day.

 





 





 

Do I have to avoid all activities post-operatively?


No. We typically demonstrate to the patients that they can bend over immediately after surgery, pick up 20-30 pounds, and shower, provided they don't get water into their operative eye. We do ask that they wear an eye shield at bedtime for the first week after surgery so they do not inadvertently rub the eye during sleep. Typical follow-up evaluations are scheduled at 1 day, 1-2 weeks, and 1 month, with glasses being prescribed sometime after the 3rd visit.

 





 





 

Does Cataract surgery hurt?


The treatment itself is painless. We will place a few numbing drops in your eye(s) to make you more comfortable.

 





 





 

Will I be able to have both eyes treated at the same time?


Only rarely can both eyes be treated on the same day and only for very specific medical reasons. We generally recommend, and most insurance companies recommend also, that one eye be done at a time, usually separated by anywhere from one or two days to one or two weeks. Please discuss this with our surgical counselors during your visit.

 





 





 

Do you offer payment options?


Our Refractive Surgery Coordinator will be happy to discuss financing information based on your personal needs. Check with your human resources department for any insurance plan or pre-tax dollars options which may help pay for surgery.

 





 





 

Will I still need glasses or contact lenses?


You may need glasses or other corrective lenses after the procedure on a temporary or permanent basis. Cataract surgery will not prevent, and may unmask, the need for reading glasses

 









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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