Who gets cataracts? What are cataracts? What are the symptoms? Can they be prevented? What can I expect with surgery?
These are some of our most commonly received questions about cataracts and cataract surgery.
Keep reading for some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about cataracts and cataract surgery and maybe get some of your questions answered in the process!
What is a cataract?
A leading cause of vision loss in older adults, a cataract occurs when the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded. This can occur in one or both eyes, though it cannot be transferred or spread from one eye to the other.
When a cataract obstructs the lens, it cannot focus properly on images, which results in blurred or dull objects.
Who gets cataracts?
Most cataracts develop over time and affect people over age 50. About half of the U.S. population has a cataract by age 65, and nearly everyone over age 75 has at least a mild cataract in one or both eyes.
Occasionally cataracts are found in younger people, including the rare instance of newborns who have congenital cataracts.
What causes cataracts?
Many factors can contribute to the development of cataracts. Chemical changes can occur within the eye lens that cause it to become cloudy. This is usually due to aging; it may be heredity, from an injury, or due to disease.
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, cigarette smoking, or the use of certain medications are all risk factors for the development of cataracts.
Can cataracts be prevented?
Currently, there are no proven methods to prevent cataracts from forming.
This condition cannot be prevented or corrected by medication – the most effective way to treat a cataract is through surgery to completely replace the old, clouded lens with a new, artificial lens.
What are the symptoms?
There are several common signs that a patient has developed a cataract, including:
- Blurry vision.
- Trouble seeing well at night.
- Glare or halos around objects.
- Sensitivity to bright light.
- Double vision.
- Loss of color vision – Colors might look yellow, brownish, or faded.
- Needing new glasses or contact lens prescriptions more often.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye exam, performed by a primary eye care doctor, will reveal if a cataract is present. The eye doctor can refer you to a surgeon, like Dr. Harris, for a comprehensive cataract evaluation, where he or she will offer an expert opinion for treatment options.
Need a primary eye care doctor? Please visit the Affiliated Physicians page to help you find a doctor who works closely with our team.
How are they treated?
If a cataract develops to the point that your daily activities are affected, you will be referred to an eye surgeon who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataract. The surgery can generally be done in the surgeon’s office using local or topical anesthesia.
Using a small incision, the surgeon will remove the clouded lens and, in most cases, replace it with an intraocular lens implant. Medication is generally placed in the eye after surgery, and the eye may be patched.
Is surgery the only way to treat cataracts?
Your optometrist can prescribe changes in your eyewear that will help you see more clearly until surgery is necessary.
When eyewear no longer provides adequate eyesight, surgery is the only proven means of effectively treating cataracts. Luckily, surgery is relatively uncomplicated and has an excellent success rate.
What happens after surgery?
Recovery time is typically one or two days. Still, every person is unique, and your healing experience will depend on your eye’s underlying health and the ease of your surgery. That’s why it is imperative to plan regularly scheduled visits for your surgeon and technician to monitor your progress.
Blurry or foggy vision is typical immediately after surgery, and your eyes may feel slightly sore or gritty. These symptoms will improve, and irritation will lessen within a few days.
Cataract surgery is safe and effective, and we make the process as painless as possible at Cataract Consultants.
If you have more questions or are considering surgery, please contact the team at Cataract Consultants right away. You are worth the investment!