Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudiness that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye, caused as proteins in the eye’s lens clump together. Even though cataracts typically progress slowly, they do interfere with light passing through the eye to the retina; and, they are potentially blinding if left untreated.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, 75% of people over the age of 60 (and quite a few younger than that) suffer from cataracts. Most people do not seem to be aware that almost everyone develops cataracts as they grow older, though cataract formations occur at different times and rates as well as affect one or both eyes.

Cataracts develop due to a variety of reasons, such as long-term ultraviolet exposure, secondary effects of diseases (i.e. diabetes), or simply part of the aging process. Early changes may not disturb vision, but as time progresses, cataracts typically result in blurred or fuzzy vision and sensitivity to light. Individuals describing their experience seeing with progressed cataracts often say they feel as if they’re looking through a waterfall or a piece of wax paper.

CloudyLensFromCataract

Family history additionally often plays a role in predisposing an individual to cataracts at an earlier age; and, cataracts can develop as a result of an eye injury or physical trauma.

The most common, as well as the most effective, treatment for cataracts is to surgically remove the cloudy lens. The two types of surgery that can be used to remove cataracts are extra-capsular and intra-capsular surgery.

Extra-capsular surgery refers to removing the lens but leaving the majority of the lens capsule intact. Phacoemulsification is the application of high frequency sound waves and is sometimes used to break up the lens before extraction.

Intra-capsular surgery refers to the removal of the entire lens of the eye, including the lens capsule. It is rarely performed in modern medical practice.

In either surgery technique, the problematic cataract lens is removed and replaced with a technologically advanced plastic lens, called an intraocular lens implant, which permanently remains in the eye.

Local anesthesia for a cataract operation is standard and the patient is allowed to go home the same day. Intraocular technology improvements now allow cataract patients to choose a multifocal lens to create a visual environment where they can be less dependent on glasses.

Medicare and most commercial insurers (subject to the percentage of any particular policy) do not hesitate to cover the cost or this advanced lens design.

Symptoms of Cataracts

  • Decreasing vision with age
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Seeing halos around bright lights
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Vision that worsens in sunlight
  • Difficulty distinguishing colors
  • Poor depth perception
  • Frequent prescription changes for glasses
  • Difficulty reading

Causes of Cataracts

  • Age
  • Eye trauma
  • Heredity
  • Diabetes
  • Some medications including long-term use of oral steroids
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Smoking
  • Glaucoma
  • Certain metabolic conditions

Diagnosing Cataracts

A contrast sensitivity test to determine how much vision has been affected by a cataract can be done by Dr. Singh. Typically, however, if decreased vision is affecting your everyday activities or hobbies, a cataract should be treated.

Treating Cataracts

Once a cataract forms, the only one way to achieve clear vision again is through cataract surgery as there is, unfortunately, no medical treatment to reverse the development of cataracts or prevent them.