What you Need to Know About Cataracts

Most people think of cataracts as a vision problem that happens to the elderly. While it is true that 50% of people over age 80 have cataracts, babies and children can also develop cataracts as a congenital disability or due to disease. Fortunately, cataracts can be diagnosed early and treated effectively. Millions of people have had their vision restored by cataract surgery.

How Cataracts Develop

A cataract starts to develop when the lens in your eye, which is usually clear, becomes foggy. The lens is behind your iris, which is the colored portion of the eye. The lens focuses light so your brain and eye process information to form a picture. When the cataract clouds over the lens, your eye can’t focus light the same way. The cataract leads to blurry vision and eventual vision loss.

Types of Cataracts

There are several types of cataracts including:

  • Age-related cataracts: Cataracts related to aging are the most common type of cataracts.
  • Congenital cataracts: Some babies are born with cataracts, while older children can develop them. While some congenital cataracts don’t affect eyesight, others need to be removed because they can harm vision.
  • Secondary cataracts: Secondary cataracts occur because of a disease like diabetes. Steroid use has also been known to cause secondary cataracts.
  • Traumatic cataracts: An injury to one or both eyes can cause you to develop a traumatic cataract. A traumatic cataract can happen either right after the accident or several years later.

Symptoms of a cataract

Cataracts are not usually painful. However, they can cause discomfort by making your eyes more sensitive to light. Cataracts are a standard part of the eye’s aging process.
Eventually, they can cause:

  • Vision that’s cloudy, blurry, foggy, or filmy.
  • Sensitivity to bright sunlight, lamps, or headlights.
  • Glare, especially when you drive at night with oncoming headlights.
  • Prescription changes in glasses, including sudden nearsightedness.
  • Double vision.
  • Need for brighter light to read.
  • Difficulty seeing at night (poor night vision).
  • Changes in the way you see color.

Diagnosis of Cataracts

Your optometrist will get a complete medical history and eye exam, and conduct tests to diagnose cataracts. Those tests may include:

  • Visual acuity test: The standard eye chart test that measures vision ability at many distances is known as the visual acuity test.
  • Pupil dilation: A pupil is dilated by an optometrist when it is widened with eye drops to allow a close-up exam of the eye’s retina.

In addition, an eye care professional may recommend other tests be done to learn more about the health and structure of your eye.

Treatment for Cataracts

In its early stages, the use of different eyeglasses, a magnifying glass, or stronger lighting may help vision loss caused by cataracts. Eventually, you may need cataract surgery to fix your impaired eyesight.

Cataract surgery is a very common surgery. It is safe and effective. An ophthalmologist should perform the surgery. Cataract surgery is conducted while you are awake. The doctor will give you a calming medication that will mildly sedate you, and a special numbing gel and eye drops to avoid any discomfort during the procedure.

Surgery involves switching out the cloudy lens with a new artificial intraocular lens. There are two types of cataract surgery:

Small-incision cataract surgery is the most commonly performed type of cataract removal. The eye surgeon makes a tiny opening on the eye, next to the outer corner. A small probe gives off ultrasound waves to dissolve the core, the hard part of the cloudy lens. The cataract material is removed by another probe, which provides suction through the same opening.

During extracapsular surgery, a more extended opening is made at the top of the eye to remove the hard center of the lens. The rest of the cataract material is taken out by suction through the large opening.

Cataract surgery usually takes between ten and twenty minutes, depending on the severity of the condition. You should also expect to spend up to thirty minutes following the surgery to recover from the sedative effects.

Please Schedule a Consultation With Our Boulder, CO Eye Care practice

If you have been told you are developing cataracts, schedule a complimentary consultation with our eye care practice today. Our practice is a full-service eye care provider providing eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, LASIK, and medical, surgical, and cosmetic services. Schedule a consultation today or call to learn more.