WHAT ARE CATARACTS?
Cataracts are a very common condition. 90% of people over age 65 have a cataract and 50% of people between age 75 and 85 have vision loss due cataracts. If untreated it can cause blindness.
When a patient is diagnosed with a cataract it signifies that the lens of the eye is becoming cloudy. Cataracts often develop slowly over the years. The main symptoms are blurry vision, fuzzy vision, and/or sensitivity to bright light. As a result, the vision is negatively affected which causes patients to feel like they are looking through a foggy filter or a dirty window. If a cataract has evolved and been diagnosed, the only way to get rid of it is through a surgical procedure. The procedure is generally very safe.
To perform cataract surgery, the ophthalmologist uses drops to numb the eye, performs a small eye incision beside the cornea using a laser or a very sharp blade. The clouded lens is removed with precise ultrasound and replaced with an implant called an intraocular lens (IOL). As the incision is so small, the pressure of the eye keeps it closed and heals it naturally. Patients will spend approximately 30 minutes to recover from the operation.
Cataract risk factors according to Stanford Health Care:
- Family history
- Years of excessive exposure to sunlight and UV rays
- High blood pressure
- Past eye injury or inflammation
- Previous eye surgery
- Steroid medication use
Most cataracts are diagnosed with an eye exam. Your eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes with a microscope to look for any eye conditions.
The only way to get rid of a cataract is with surgery. Patients may not need surgery at the early stage of the disease. They can try home treatments and new eyeglasses or contact lenses. The faster a cataract is detected, the better vision loss can be controlled.
Home treatments would consist to use brighter lights, wear anti-glare glasses, and use magnifying glasses for reading and other similar activities.
Your doctor can also prescribe new glasses or contact lenses to help you see better with your cataract.
If the cataract starts becoming annoying for everyday activities such as reading, driving, and watching TV, your eye doctor can suggest surgery. During this surgery, the ophthalmologist will remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial one.