What is a cataract?
The term "cataract" refers to a cloudy lens within the eye.
This clouding is caused by proteins in the eye breaking down as we get older. As a result, the amount of light penetrating the lens and reaching the retina at a proper angle is reduced. While you may not notice any cataract symptoms or your vision might even improve slightly, it is important to remember that your eyesight will deteriorate soon.
The best defense is to have regular eye exams and if diagnosed with a cataract, to have your lenses replaced quickly.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
- Cloudy or blurry vision often described as ‘milky’ or ‘hazy’
- Colors seem faded
- Glare or a halo around lights
- Poor night vision
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses
What are the risk factors for cataracts?
Cataracts will eventually affect everyone. The typical onset happens between 60 and 70 years of age. Earlier or later onsets, however, are not uncommon. The following factors can influence the speed and severity of cataracts:
- Injury to the eye
- Certain diseases like diabetes
- Smoking or alcohol abuse
- Prolonged, direct exposure to sunlight
Are cataracts reversible?
No. Unfortunately, there is no medication to cure or reverse cataracts. While glasses or contact lenses may temporarily help you with reading or driving, your cataracts will get progressively worse with time. For this reason, we recommend a prompt cataract lens replacement. It is the only option to get back to enjoying your family activities and all the adventures life brings without blurred, cloudy vision holding you back.
Cataract surgery steps
The surgery itself consists of three steps:
Cataract removal: After making a small incision in your eye, your surgeon will insert an instrument about the size of a pen tip to remove the cataract, using either high-frequency sound waves to gently break up the cloudy lens (phacoemulsification), or pulses of fluid to wash it away (liquefaction).
Lens insertion: The cataract-affected natural crystalline lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs are typically made of a flexible material, allowing your surgeon to fold and insert the IOL through a very small incision. Once inserted, the IOL opens, and its haptics, or "arms," unfold to keep it in place.
Vision restored: Once the cataract is removed, and the IOL is in the proper position, light can once again travel unimpeded to the back of your eye. Recovery after cataract surgery is generally quick and usually occurs within only a few days
Cataract Treatment Options
The traditional lens option for cataract surgery is a monofocal IOL that is designed to correct your vision at one focusing point. Many patients will still need glasses or contacts for reading or to correct distance vision or astigmatism after surgery with a monofocal lens. Advanced lens implants such as a multifocal lens implant can reduce or eliminate your need for reading glasses and/or distance glasses after cataract surgery. Compared to traditional single-focus lens implants, advanced lenses are designed to provide an expanded range of vision. Most of our patients who select multifocal lenses can see distance, intermediate (computer vision), and near without glasses.
Multifocal lens options include Alcon Penoptix, Vivity, Tecnis Symphony, and many others. Dr. Shah will help you choose the best lens for your needs.