What is Cataract?

Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision impairment in the United States.  Many people may suffer from this condition without ever realizing it because cataracts form slowly and over a long period of time.  Cataract is a clouding of the eye's naturally clear lens.  The lens in one's eye focuses the light rays on the retina, resulting in the crisp image of what we see.  A cloudy lens disperses the light, resulting in cloudy, blurry vision.  This is most often a result of the natural aging process, though it may also be attributed to genetics, medications, or certain diseases.  Some people say that their vision with cataracts is similar to the effect of looking through a dirty window. cataract1


How is a cataract treated?

For those who experience only a slight decrease in visual acuity, getting glasses or getting a stronger prescription for their glasses will often help. There are no drops, medications, exercises, or glasses that will reverse the formation of cataracts or prevent them from forming.  Patients will often be seen every six months to continually monitor the cataract.  When the cataract is dense enough to greatly affect one's vision and quality of life, then surgery should be considered.

Cataract Surgery

When a cataract causes vision problems that interfere with your normal activities, surgery is often recommended.  Cataract surgery is a safe and simple procedure.  First, the doctor uses a topical anesthetic to ensure you are comfortable and do not feel pain.  Next, a tiny incision is made in the eye, and an instrument is inserted.  This instrument is used to break up and remove the cataract.  Then, a replacement lens is implanted through the same small incision and set into place.  The whole process usually lasts less than thirty minutes.  

Patients often experience an increase in visual acuity after surgery.  For some, this may even mean that their vision is improved to the extent that they no longer need their distance prescription.  In most cases, patients will return to having an annual routine exam after surgery.


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