What is a cataract?
A cataract is identified as the clouding of the natural lens. People who are over 60 are the most affected by cataracts when it comes to vision impairment and is the world’s primary cause of blindness.
To understand the seriousness of the widespread effect of cataracts, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) stated that cataracts affect approximately more than 22 million Americans over the age of 46, and PBA states that the figure will rise to 30 million by 2020.
Symptoms and signs of cataracts
As symptoms of cataracts develop; you will notice blurry vision, and you may also become more sensitive to light.
Driving at night may become a challenge because the headlights from oncoming cars may cause glare or halos. You may even notice colors seem dull or not as vibrant as before.
What causes cataracts?
The eye’s lens functions like the lens of a camera, it is used to focus light to the retina, and it adjusts the focus of the eye for you to see things clearly for both near or distant objects. The main components of the lens are protein and water.
The protein is organized in a way to keep the lens clear for the light to easily pass through. Over time, the protein may build up and form a small cloudy part of the lens. The cloud may become larger over time forming a cataract, which will make it harder for you to see.
Aging is considered as the primary factor of poor vision. The reason as to why the lens changes as we age is unknown to us, but doctors have identified factors that cause a cataract; they include:
- UV radiation
- High Myopia
- Previous inflammation or eye surgery
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Use of corticosteroid medications
- Statin medicines
- High intake of alcohol
When is the right time to get a cataract surgery?
At the beginning of cataract formation, it may be easy to improve your vision through glasses, magnification, bifocals, visual aids, and appropriate lighting. When the cataract progresses to the point that it impairs vision and the way of life, laser cataract surgery should be the first thing that comes to mind.
According to PBA, cataract surgery is one of the most successful procedures performed in the US, having more than three million Americans undergoing the surgery every year.
When cataract surgery is being performed, the natural lens is removed by the surgeon and replaced with a clear intraocular lens (IOL).
Recent developments in IOLs allow patients to have options customized to their lifestyle. There are 4 main types of IOLs:
- Monofocal lens – These lenses can provide clear distance vision for patients without astigmatism.
- Multifocal lens – These lenses can provide a range of vision from near to intermediate to distance.
- Astigmatism Correcting (Toric) lens – correct higher levels of astigmatism and provide clear distance vision. You will still need glasses for near and intermediate vision.
- Depth-of-focus lens – This lens provides a continuous range of vision at all distances to fit your active lifestyle.
If there is a cataract in both eyes, typically cataract surgery is performed on your non-dominant eye first followed by your dominant eye 1-2 weeks later.
Here’s a video on choosing the right surgeon for your cataract surgery: