What is a cataract?
Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens that focuses light coming into the eye onto our retina. If you have a cataract, your lens has become cloudy like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract. Another common sign of cataracts is trouble seeing at night due to glare, especially while driving into headlights of oncoming traffic.
How do I know if I have a Cataract? Here are some common symptoms of Cataracts?
- Having blurry vision
- Having trouble seeing well at night, due to glare from headlights or street lamps.
- Needing more light when you read
- Seeing colors as faded or yellow
What Causes Cataracts?
While there are unique causes for each patient, aging is usually the most common cause of cataracts. This is due to normal eye changes that happen starting around the age of 40, when normal proteins in the lens start to break down, and cause the lens to get cloudy. However, vision problems may not happen until years later. Eye injuries, diabetics, UV sun damage and certain medications can make cataracts to appear sooner than later in some patients.
Cataract surgery is an operation to remove our eye’s lens when it is cloudy. The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery.
While each patient is unique, some patients will require additional treatment before obtaining required measurements for Cataract Surgery. Measurements will be taken to determine the proper focusing power for your IOL (Intraocular Lens). Also, you will be asked about any medicines you take. You will also be prescribed eyedrop medications to start taking before surgery. Those medications will help prevent infection and reduce swelling during and after surgery.
The day of surgery:
No eating or drinking after midnight.
Cataract surgery is done in an outpatient surgery center or in a hospital setting.
During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens.
After the surgery, you will be observed by a nurse for a short period of time, usually 30 minutes, and be sent home with a protective shield covering the eye.
- You will be prescribed eye drops to use after surgery. Make sure to follow the instructions of the drops carefully to ensure proper healing.
- Make sure to avoid getting water or soap in the operation eye.
- Never rub or press on the eye.
- The doctor will provide you with a protective shield to use when sleeping.
- After your surgery we recommend no heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity for about a week.
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the US, it is also one of the safest and most successful. As with any surgery, however, there are always risks. Overall, complications from cataract surgery occur in less than 1% of surgeries. Some of the risks associated with Cataract Surgery include:
- Eye infection
- Swelling in the front or inside of the eye
- Detached retina
- Loss of vision
- Reactions to anesthesia
Cataract surgery cannot restore vision lost from other problems like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Even in these situations, however, removing the cataract can maximize the remaining vision you have left, helping you see better and improving your quality of life.