What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eye. The normally clear lens lets light enter the eye. A cataract is a clouding of the lens which SCATTERS LIGHT as it enters the eye. Cataracts are common with age and can occur in one or both eyes. The clouding of the lens usually happens slowly over time, but can happen quickly. Generally people begin needing cataract surgery in their 50's and 60's.
Cataracts may be caused by many things, including the following:
- Normal Maturity (OK, aging)
- Diabetes or other eye diseases
- Past eye infections, injuries, or surgery
- Some medicines (such as steroids)
- Too much ultraviolet (UV) sunlight, (do you have sunglasses?)
- Cataracts can also run in families
When Should You See Your Eye Doctor?
Regular eye exams help Dr. D. see if cataracts are affecting your vision. Have exams as often as Dr. D. recommends, but if your vision suddenly gets worse, see Dr. D. right away. It could be an eye problem that needs prompt care. During your eye exam, you and Dr. D can discuss a plan to help improve your vision. This may not always require surgery.
Your Eye Exam
When checking for cataracts, Dr. D will do the following:
- Ask you questions about your health and family history. This helps Dr. D. rule out other vision problems.
- Test your vision to tell how well you see and whether your vision is getting worse. Bring any glasses and contact lenses you wear to your exam.
- Examine your eyes. Drops are used to dilate your pupils. This allows Dr. D. to better see your cataracts. It also lets Dr. D. check for other problems inside your eye, such as Macular Degeneration or Glaucoma.
When Is Surgery Needed?
Since cataracts develop slowly, you may not need surgery right away. Dr. D. tends to be VERY CONSERVATIVE when making recommendations for cataract surgery.
We only consider cataract surgery if we are certain that it will help, otherwise, we will avoid surgery and use other means to improve your vision, such as glasses with special coatings to minimize glare.
The procedure is a VERY ADVANCED outpatient procedure. The clouded lens is removed and is replaced by an artificial lens. There are no stitches, needles or patches needed. Dr. D. will remove the cataract, one eye at a time, using a wonderful instrument called a PHACO (pronounced FAY-COE). The eye will heal rapidly in most cases so you can get back to your normal routine right away. There are no limitations to activity after cataract surgery. You can go dancing, bowling, work in the yard, and shower the next day.
After Your Eye Has Healed:
Your vision should be noticeably improved. Other steps may be taken to make your vision even better:
- Eyeglasses may be used to sharpen your vision to its maximum.
- Occasionally a special YAG laser may be used to further improve your vision after surgery if the capsule that holds the new lens becomes cloudy. This procedure is very safe and quick (about 45 seconds) and is performed in the office.
- Some patients notice “floaters” after the surgery, which are completely harmless. Some patients notice more dust in their house after cataract surgery due to their improved vision…., happy cleaning!