What Is A Cataract? | Suncoast Eye Center in Hudson, Florida


     

    WHAT IS A CATARACT?

    Although there are several different types of cataracts, they are all caused by the loss of transparency in the lens of the eye. The loss of this transparency causes a disruption in the transmission of light to the retina, which leads to decreased vision.

    WHO IS AFFECTED BY CATARACTS?

    Cataracts most commonly occur in people who are over the age of 55, although it can affect younger people and, rarely, newborns. Twenty-three percent of those over age 75 are affected by cataracts.Cataracts account for over one-half of all cases of impaired vision and affect over 20 million people.

    CAUSE OF CATARACTS

    Changes within the material of the lens, are responsible for the clouding and discoloration. These changes are part of the natural aging process, although they may also be caused by injury, certain diseases, or birth defects. Other contributing factors include exposure of the eye to ultraviolet light (sunlight), poor nutrition, smoking, and certain drugs.
     
    The cloudy lens blocks the passage of light, casting a blurred image on the retina. Clouding of the lens may affect a small portion of the lens or the entire lens.

    The degree to which a person's vision is affected depends on the location and degree of clouding. For instance, if the area of clouding starts on the side of the lens, a person's central vision may not be drastically affected for years.
    The onset of a cataract may be gradual or rapid. Cataracts usually develop around the age of 50, but may not significantly interfere with vision until much later.

    HOW WILL I KNOW IF I HAVE CATARACTS?

    The lens is normally clear so light can pass through it, producing a sharp image on the retina; when the lens becomes cloudy, light cannot pass through as easily. Having a cataract is like looking through a foggy window.
     
    Cataract Diagram-Suncoast Eye Center and Eye Surgery Institute in Hudson, FL
     

    HOW ARE CATARACTS DIAGNOSED?

    A comprehensive eye examination is needed to detect cataract formation. After diagnosis, regular follow-up care is needed to assure the best possible vision correction for the level of impairment.

    WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR CATARACTS?

    A comprehensive eye examination can detect cataract formation. In the early stages, prescription glasses can help you see better. In time, however, cataracts become so dense that good vision can no longer be maintained with prescription eyewear. At that time, surgery may be the best option to restore vision.
    Only one eye is operated on at a time, the eye with the worse vision is usually done first. Surgery is often timed so that one eye has adequate vision while the surgical eye heals. When the clouded lens is removed during cataract surgery, it is often replaced with an artificial lens implant.
    Today, innovative technology has provided patients with so many different choices in intraocular lenses (IOLs); depending on whether a patient loves to golf, play tennis, read or does a lot of night time driving.

    Prescription glasses may help you see better. At some point however, cataracts may become so dense that good vision can no longer be maintained with just glasses. At that time, surgery may be the best option to restore clear vision.The decision to have surgery is one that you and your surgeon should make jointly.
    The decision of when to have a cataract removed depends on a number of factors, such as the extent of clouding, the location of the cataract, and the extent to which normal daily activities are impaired. For instance, if reading or driving abilities are impaired, surgery may be a more realistic consideration.

    HOW IS CATARACT SURGERY PERFORMED?

    Cataract surgery has improved dramatically over the years with a very high success rate, 95 percent or better. Over one million cataract surgeries are performed annually. The surgery has few complications and an increasingly short recovery time. Cataract surgery is performed in our State-of-the-Art Ambulatory Surgery Institute.

    Your surgeon will discuss with you the risks and benefits you should expect. This is based on other factors, such as The “health” of the retina, the “health” of the eye, and the overall “health' of the body.

    Cataract surgery involves the removal of the clouded lens. When the cloudy lens is removed, focusing power of the eye must be replaced. This is performed by implanting an intraocular lens (IOL) into the eye immediately after the cloudy lens is removed. The artificial lens contains the correct focusing power that is needed for each individual patient.
    The power of the replacement lens is calculated by using the latest technology available today to assure the most accurate focusing power. Even with the most advanced calculations, reading glasses are sometimes needed after cataract surgery, however new technology implants are available that can eliminate reading glasses. These lenses are not for everyone and must be discussed in advance with the doctor.

    SIGNS OF CATARACTS:

     
    • Difficulty driving or seeing at night
    • Difficulty reading, especially in low light
    • Difficulty viewing a computer screen
     
    • Colors appear dim and faded
    • The appearance of glare or starbursts around lights
    • Frequent change in glasses prescription