Q: What are Cataracts?
A: A cataract is an opacification or clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. The lens helps us focus on objects at different distances. As a part of the normal aging process, changes in the lens can cause it to become cloudy. Left untreated, a cataract can become so dense that it causes blindness. In fact, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. The original meaning of “cataract” is “waterfall,” and the name was chosen because distorted vision caused by a cataract reminded people of the distorted view that is obtained when looking through a waterfall.
Q: Who Gets Cataracts?
A: Most people who develop cataracts are older than 60 years. Cataracts in older people are so common they can be regarded as a normal part of the aging process. Among the major conditions related to cataracts are diabetes or injury to the eye. Medications such as steroids can also cause cataracts to form. In rare cases, congenital cataracts are present at birth. These cataracts are usually related to the mother having German measles, chickenpox, or other infectious diseases during pregnancy or to the child having certain syndromes, e.g., Marfan’s. Some cataracts are inherited.
Q: What are the Symptoms of a Cataract?
A: Typical symptoms
- Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy, or filmy vision
- Changes in the perception of colors
- Problems driving at night because headlights seem too bright
- Problems with glare from lamps or the sun
- Frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription
- Double vision
These symptoms can also be signs of other eye problems. If you have any of them, consult your optometrist at Atlanta Eye Care for an eye examination.
Q: How Do I Decide to Have Surgery?
A: Most people have plenty of time to decide about cataract surgery. Tell your optometrist how your cataract affects your vision and your life. Read the statements below; see which ones apply to you:
- I need to drive, but there is too much glare from the sun or headlights.
- I do not see well enough to do my best at work.
- I do not see well enough to do the things I need to do at home.
- I do not see well enough to do things I like to do (for example, read, watch TV, sew, hike, play cards, and go out with friends).
- I am afraid I will bump into something or fall.
- Because of my Cataract, I am not as independent as I would like to be.
- I cannot see well enough with my eyeglasses.
- My eyesight bothers me a lot.
Q: How Can Cataracts Be Treated?
A: The natural lens of the eye that has been damaged by a cataract is surgically removed and then replaced with a clear artificial lens. During the surgery, usually done on an out-patient basis, a tiny incision is made in the eye and the cataract-damaged natural lens is removed through the incision. An artificial lens is then inserted through the same incision. Most patients have significantly improved vision after the procedure.
Q: What are the Benefits of Cataract Surgery?
A: Cataract surgery restores quality vision for millions of patients each year. Good vision is vital to an enjoyable lifestyle. Numerous research studies show that Cataract surgery restores quality-of-life functions including reading, working, moving around, hobbies, safety, self-confidence, independence, daytime and night-time driving, community and social activities, mental health, and overall life satisfaction.
Q: What are the Risks of Cataract Surgery?
A: Cataract surgery is performed millions of times every year in the United States. In fact, it is the most commonly performed surgery in the U.S. About 98% of patients have a complication-free experience that results in improved vision. Nevertheless, cataract surgery has risks and complications. Most complications resolve in a matter of days to months. In rare cases, patients lose some degree of vision permanently as a result of the surgery.
Q: Is it Still Necessary to Wear Thick Glasses After Cataract Surgery?
A: No. Today, cataract patients who have artificial or Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) implanted during surgery may only need reading glasses for close vision. Patients who do not receive IOLs wear contact lenses for distance vision and reading glasses for close vision. Some patients choose to wear multifocal contact lenses for all distances.
Q: Are There Options if I Do Not Want to Wear Glasses or Contacts After Surgery?
A: Yes. “Premium lenses” such as the ReSTOR® Multifocal Lens and Crystalens® accommodating lens are FDA approved to significantly decrease or eliminate the need for reading Glasses or Multifocal Contacts after surgery. Ask your optometrist if you are a candidate.
Q: How Successful is Cataract Surgery?
A: Cataract surgery has an overall success rate of 98%. Continuous innovations in techniques and instruments allow cataract surgeons to treat more patients while keeping costs down and improving the quality of patient care.