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UNDERSTANDING CATARACTS

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a window that is frosted or"fogged" with steam. Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, with more than 3 million Americans undergoing cataract surgery 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 use a femtosecond laser and phacoemulsification to remove your clouded lens and in most cases replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL).

Laser Cataract Surgery is the most advanced option to date, laser surgery creates a safer and easier removal of the cataract.The Fixed Focus Intraocular Lens has been used for the last 30 years and corrects vision to a single point, usually distance.Patients with this lens may see well at a distance without glasses, but usually require glasses for reading and near tasks. This lens gives the best vision at a distance and excellent quality of vision, but glasses are required for reading, and possibly distance as well. Multifocal Intraocular Lense are like trifocals and focus at several distances at the same time.These lenses focus near and distant objects in the eye at the same time and give excellent near vision. While the near vision with multifocal lenses is better than that with accommodating lenses, patients with these lenses will have some loss of contrast in the distance and may see some glare and halos when driving at night. Unlike accommodating lenses, the eye muscle is not involved, therefore the increased near vision occurs quickly after surgery. Multifocal lenses give the best reading vision, but many patients have some glare and halos that may interfere with night driving.

There are many misconceptions about cataract. It is

  • Not a film over the eye
  • Not caused by overusing the eyes
  • Not a cancer
  • Not spread from one eye to the other
  • Not a cause of irreversible blindness

Common symptoms of cataract include

  • A painless blurring of vision
  • Glare, or light sensitivity
  • Frequent eyeglass prescription changes
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Needing brighter light to read
  • Poor night vision
  • Fading or yellowing of colors

The amount and pattern of cloudiness within the lens can vary. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that a cataract is present.

Normal sight

A cataract may cause hazy or blurred vision.

What causes cataract

The most common type of cataract is related to aging of the eye. Other causes of cataract include:

  • Family History
  • Glare, or light sensitivity
  • Medical problems, such as diabetes
  • Injury to the eye
  • Medications, such as steroids
  • Long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight
  • Previous eye injury

How is cataract treated?

Surgery is the only way your ophthalmologist can remove the cataract. However, if symptoms from a cataract are mild, a change of glasses may be all that is needed for you to function more comfortably.

There are no medications, dietary supplements, exercises or optical devices that have been shown 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.