What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a “clouding” of the eye’s natural lens, which results in blurred or defocused vision. Cataracts are often described as looking through wax paper or cloudy cellophane. More than 20 million adults in the U.S. have developed cataracts making it the number one cause of poor vision in the United States. In most cases cataract surgery is required to improve an individual’s vision. The natural lens is replaced with a man made lens often referred to as an IOL or intraocular lens. This surgery is highly successful and is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States today.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts
The only way to properly diagnose a surgical cataract is to have an ophthalmologist perform a comprehensive, dilated eye exam. Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. Just having a cataract does not necessarily mean that surgery is required. Surgery can be performed if the cataract is bad enough, as assessed by your surgeon, and if you have symptoms. As a result, you may not immediately notice changes in your vision when cataracts first develop.
In Time, You May Have Symptoms Such As:
- Clouded, blurry or dim vision
- Increased difficulty seeing at night or in low light
- Sensitivity to light and glare, seeing halos around lights
- Colors seem faded or yellowed
- The need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Double vision within one eye
Causes of Cataracts
Cataracts occur as part of the natural aging process, so everyone is at risk eventually. By age 75, about 70% of people will have cataracts. The eye’s lens slowly becomes less flexible, less transparent and thicker. Areas of the lens gradually become cloudy. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes at about the same time.
These Factors Increase the Risk of Developing Cataracts
- Older age
- Family history
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
- Prolonged steroid use (especially combined use of oral and inhaled steroids)
- Extensive exposure to sunlight
Although cataracts have no scientifically proven prevention, it is sometimes said that wearing ultraviolet-protecting sunglasses may slow the development of cataracts. Regular intake of antioxidants (such as vitamin A, C and E) is theoretically helpful, but taking them as a supplement has been shown to have no benefit. The less well known antioxidant N-acetylcarnosine has been shown in randomized controlled clinical trials to treat cataracts, and can be expected to prevent their formation by similar mechanisms. N-acetylcarnosine is a proposed treatment for other ocular disorders that are instigated, or exacerbated by oxidative stress including glaucoma, retinal degeneration, corneal disorders, and ocular inflammation.
Cataract Surgery With a Monofocal Lens
Cataract Surgery With a Multifocal Lens
Cataract Surgery With a Toric Lens
Your New Options
Due to advancements in technology, you have an important decision to make prior to your cataract surgery. You now have the option to choose a specialty package to reduce your dependency on glasses after cataract surgery. You may still choose the traditional monofocal lens, which will provide you with one range of vision. Most patients will choose correction for distance vision and will still need to wear glasses for reading and up-close activities. Specialty lenses and refractive packages are offered to help meet specific desires of the patient.These packages can correct astigmatism to obtained a desired focal point, or provide both near and distance focusing. The specialty packages come with an additional cost that is not covered by Medicare or other health insurances.
If you would like to learn more about Specialty Packages click here. A member of our knowledgeable staff and your Regional Eye Associates cataract surgeon will help you determine the best lens for you at your upcoming cataract evaluation.