Cataracts and Cataract Surgery
I think I might have cataracts. What should I do?
If you're worried about cataracts, you're not alone. Cataracts are a common cause of decreased vision, affecting over 20 million Americans age 40 and older.
If it turns out that you have cataracts, the good news is that modern treatments are highly successful! But before you think about treatments, you might first want to learn more about cataracts.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
If you have one or more of these symptoms, cataracts might be the cause:
- Painless blurring of vision
- Glare or light sensitivity
- Poor night vision
- Double vision
- Needing more light to read
- Fading or yellowing colors
Are these symptoms getting in the way of you living your life? Are you worried about your safety while walking or driving? Imagine if these symptoms could be improved. What would you be able to enjoy more?
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of your eye's lens. Normally this lens is clear, but when a cataract develops, it can blur, dim, or yellow your vision. It's also possible for a cataract to develop on the edge of your lens. You might not notice it at first if this happens.
What causes cataracts?
Age is the most common cause. As you get older, the lens in your eye can naturally become cloudier. Some people are more genetically predisposed to this than others.
Other factors have been shown to cause cataracts or make them worse, like smoking, diabetes, some medications, exposing the eyes to too much sunlight for many years, or sustaining an injury to the eyes.
There are also congenital cataracts that can affect babies or children.
Can cataracts be prevented?
For the most part, no. As you get older, there are better-than-even odds that you'll gradually develop cataracts.
When it comes to factors under your control, though, you might be able to do some good. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, wear UV-blocking sunglasses. If you smoke, consider quitting. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about how high blood sugar can cause eye problems. You may not be able to prevent cataracts, but you may be able to slow their development.
Just because cataracts can't be prevented, that doesn't mean they can't be treated! For more than 30 years, we at ECOF have been helping people regain clear vision after living with cataracts.
How are cataracts treated?
If you have cataracts, you might be wondering what your options are.
If your vision is only slightly affected, you might be able to improve your situation temporarily with eyeglasses.
There are no medications, eye drops, exercises, or glasses that will make cataracts go away or prevent them altogether. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. If you are no longer able to see well because of cataracts, you should consider cataract surgery.
We know how frustrating and worrying it can be to lose your vision. Every day here at ECOF we talk to people with cataracts and help them understand their options. If you have cataracts, our doctors will be able to provide you with the same personal care, top expertise, and modern technologies that we've provided to thousands of other people with cataracts.
When is the right time for cataract surgery?
Most age-related cataracts develop slowly over time. Cataracts caused by diabetes or other factors may progress more quickly. It's impossible to predict exactly how fast they'll develop in each person.
The best way to make this decision is to talk to us about how cataracts are affecting your life. If you're mildly inconvenienced, you may be able to wait, or manage with eyeglasses. If it's a major problem, you can discuss the benefits of surgery and the timing that works best for you.
Discussing your concerns with an ECOF ophthalmologist doesn't mean you'll need to have surgery right away. You might talk it over and decide that surgery can wait. Knowing your options can give you peace of mind.
What can I expect from cataract surgery?
If you've decided that cataract surgery is your best option, you'll be pleased to know that it's a successful one. Every year, more than three million people in the United States have the surgery. Ninety-eight percent report improved vision.
Your cataract surgery is likely to be an outpatient procedure, with a local or topical anesthetic and a mild sedative to make you more comfortable. Using a microscope and tiny instruments, your ECOF ophthalmologist will remove your eye's natural lens and replace it with a permanent intraocular lens implant.
After surgery, we will prescribe eye drops and advise you to rest. We'll schedule follow-up visits to check your eye and make sure it's healing properly.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
All surgery carries some amount of risk. You should talk this risk over with us so you can weigh it against the benefit of improved vision. If you talk with us about surgery, we'll discuss the pros and cons with you so you can be comfortable with your options.
Cataract surgery complications are very rare, but include infection, swelling, bleeding, and swelling or detachment of the retina. Major complications are reported in only 1 of 200 surgeries nationally.
There's also the risk that surgery may not improve your vision as much as you would have hoped. Other conditions, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy will not be improved by cataract surgery.
Sometimes, months or years after cataract surgery, the capsule that holds the lens in place can become cloudy. If this happens, we can perform a second procedure that uses a laser to restore normal vision.
Overall, the success of cataract surgery is excellent.
What's next? Get a cataract evaluation.
If you're wondering what you should do next, we can help. You should set up an appointment with a cataract specialist here at Eye Centers of Florida.
When you visit, the first thing we'll do is examine your eyes and ask you about the symptoms that are causing you problems. After we determine the cause of your symptoms, we'll discuss lens and treatment options.
The first step is meeting with our expert team. We want to understand what's bothering you, provide you with the most comprehensive set of treatments and procedures, and help you choose the option that's right for you. Most of all, we want to help you enjoy a life with better vision!