What Is a Cataract?
When it comes to cataract surgery and lens implantation, our goal is to help you make a more informed decision on which cataract options are best suited for your needs. Your lifestyle and the role your eyes play in the activities you most will play an
important role in helping us customize a cataract surgery plan that is tailor made to fit your needs. Please be sure to ask one of our surgeons or staff members about your cataract options or for additional information if necessary.
Most patients don’t realize that cataract development can begin as early as age 40. By the time we’re 50, some of us already have measurable deficiencies in our vision due to cataracts.
Cataracts are simply a natural part of the aging process that is taking place inside your eye. It’s a gradual clouding of the normally clear natural lens of the eye. Although barely noticeable in its early stages, over time, this clouding process makes your vision less sharp, reducing your contrast and making activities like night driving and reading more difficult.
Fortunately, modern-day cataract removal and lens implantation is one of the safest, most common – AND MOST SUCCESSFUL – surgical procedures performed today.
How is a cataract detected?
A thorough eye examination by a qualified eye care professional can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision or discomfort.
There may be other reasons for visual loss in addition to the cataract, such as problems involving the retina or optic nerve. If these problems are present, perfect vision may not return after cataract removal. If such conditions are severe, removal of the cataract may not result in any improvement in vision. The ophthalmologist will decide how much visual improvement is likely.
How fast does a cataract develop?
How quickly a cataract develops varies among individuals, and may vary even between the two eyes. Most cataracts associated with aging progress gradually over a period of years.
Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a few months and cause vision to worsen quickly. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person.
How is a cataract treated?
Surgery is the only way the ophthalmologist can remove the cataract. However, if symptoms from a cataract are mild, a change in glasses may be all that is needed for adequate vision.
There are no medications, dietary supplements, exercises or optical devices that have been proven to prevent or cure cataracts.
Protection from excessive sunlight may help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Sunglasses that screen out ultraviolet (UV) light rays or regular eyeglasses with a clear, anti-UV coating offer this protection.
When Should I Have Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery should be considered when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with daily activities. It is not true that cataracts need to be “ripe” before they can be removed.
Cataract surgery can be performed when your visual needs require it. You must decide if you can see to do your job and drive safely, and if you can read and watch TV in comfort. Can you perform daily tasks such as cooking, shopping, yard work, and taking of medications without difficulty?
Based on your symptoms, you and your ophthalmologist should decide together when surgery is appropriate.
Preparing for Cataract Surgery
What Can I Expect from Cataract Surgery?
Over 1.4 million people have cataract surgery each year in the United States.
Cataract surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. The cloudy lens is removed from the eye, and in most cases, the focusing power lost in the removal of the natural lens is restored by replacing the natural lens with a permanent intraocular lens implant.
Your ophthalmologist performs this delicate surgery using a microscope, microsurgical instruments and other modern technology.
In approximately one-fifth of people having cataract surgery, the natural capsule that supports the intraocular lens will eventually become cloudy. Laser surgery is used to open this cloudy capsule and restore clear vision.
After cataract surgery, you may return almost immediately to all but the most strenuous activities. You will use eye drops as your ophthalmologist directs. Several postoperative visits are needed to check on the progress of the eye as it heals.
Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure. A majority of the cases result in greatly improved vision, unless there is a problem with the cornea, retina or optic nerve. It is important to understand that complications can occur during or after the surgery, some severe enough to limit vision. As with any surgery, a good result cannot be guaranteed.
See our Cataract Lens Implants to learn more about the Lens Choices we offer
Post-Op Instruction Video
Cataracts are a common cause of poor vision, particularly for the elderly, but they are treatable. Your ophthalmologist can tell you whether a cataract or some other problem is the cause for your vision loss or discomfort, and will help you decide if cataract surgery is appropriate for you.