Cataracts form when protein builds up over the lens of a normally clear eye causing cloudiness or blurry vision. Light passes through the lens located behind the iris (colored part of the eye) sending a signal to your brain of the image you are trying to see. When cataracts cover the lens, the image is distorted as the eye cannot focus light as it should. Vision changes depending on the cataract’s location and size. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes and start to affect people aged 40 or older, but generally common around age 60. Half of those age 80 or older develop cataracts. Smoking and alcohol consumption are high risk factors for cataracts as well as family history of cataracts and living an in area with high pollution. Cataracts also form due to diabetes, steroid use, radiation treatment, and other eye conditions and injuries to the eyes.
Cataract symptoms are generally mild and usually include light sensitivity in addition to blurred vision. The first course of action is a new prescription for glasses or contacts. If cataracts symptoms, such as inability to drive, read, or carry out normal activities, persist beyond a fix of a new prescription, surgery will be recommended. During cataract surgery, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and a clear artificial lens is usually implanted. In some cases, however, a cataract may be removed without implanting an artificial lens. The new lens is clear, shaped to fit your eye and personalized to your vision needs. Once the cataract has been removed by either phacoemulsification or extracapsular extraction, the artificial lens is implanted into the empty lens capsule. Phacoemulsification is the most common procedure for cataracts. The ophthalmologist makes a small opening in the eye to reach the clouded lens. Using high-frequency sound waves or a laser, the lens is broken into pieces. Lens fragments are then suctioned from the eye and replaced with a new plastic lens. If the phacoemulsification technique is not a viable option due to an advanced cataract that may be too dense to break apart easily, an extracapsular cataract surgery may be used. This procedure requires a larger incision where surgical tools are used to remove the front capsule of the lens and the cloudy lens comprising the cataract. The very back capsule of the lens is left in place to serve as a place for the artificial lens to rest.
Leaving cataracts untreated will cause a decrease in overall quality of life but what will surely happen if you don’t fix cataracts is that they will lead to vision loss and eventually blindness. Fortunately, cataract surgery is routine and common. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes and recovery time, pain and discomfort are minimal.
Don’t delay on treating your cataract symptoms. Experts estimate that visual disability associated with cataracts accounts for over 8 million physician office visits a year in the United States. Rosenbaum Eye and Laser Center offers testing and treatment options to get you underway to better vision today. Contact our office by 517-393-2020 or WEBSITE for your comprehensive examination.