WHAT ARE CATARACTS?
WHAT ARE CATARACTS AND HOW IS LASER SURGERY USED FOR CATARACTS?
Almost everyone knows someone who has had cataracts or laser eye surgery but, what you might not know is exactly what cataracts are, the symptoms, if they are preventable, how they are treated and the different types of laser surgery available for our eyes. In this section we answer all your questions about cataracts, our vision, how eye diseases are diagnosed and treatment available.
SOME CATARACT SYMPTOMS: CLOUDY VISION AND GLARE
The natural lens focuses images onto the back of the eye so we can see clearly, much like the lens of a camera. When we are young our natural lens is clear, but as we age it gets cloudy, brown and rigid. This condition is called a cataract.
Everyone over the age of 60 will at some point develop cataracts. As cataracts grow your symptoms progress gradually and include:
- Objects appearing dull, hazy, blurred or distorted
- Dramatic reduction in night vision and glare with headlights
- Vision in bright light or sunshine may be obstructed by glare
- You might see halos around lights at night
- Whites, blues and purples become gray
- Loss of the ability to focus on near objects requiring bifocal glasses
- Frequent need to change your eyeglass prescription
Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed. During surgery the cataract lens is removed using an ultrasound technique called phacoemulsification. A new clear lens is then inserted in the eye. The surgery ordinarily takes about ten minutes and is performed as an outpatient under local eye drop anesthesia. You may consider surgery when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with your daily activities.
To diagnose a cataract, we first listen carefully to the visual symptoms that the cataract is causing and how this affects your daily living activities. Your vision will be tested and we will determine if an eyeglass change will solve your problem. We also evaluate how glare may affect your vision. You will then undergo a complete eye exam, including tonometry to measure the pressure in your eyes, slit-lamp evaluation to look at the overall health of the eye and to assess the severity of the cataracts. We perform a careful examination of the retina and optic nerve by viewing the back of the eye through dilated pupils.
We may detect cataracts forming in people as young as their forties, and diagnose them more frequently as people age.
The only way to find out if you have a cataract forming is to ask your doctor. Through a comprehensive, painless eye exam, your doctor will be able to determine if changes in your vision are due to the cataract, or some other condition.
There was a time when people chose to wait until their vision deteriorated substantially before correcting the problem. But because of dramatic advances in modern cataract surgery, there is no longer any necessity to wait. It’s time to consider cataract surgery when reduced vision from cataracts interfere with your daily lifestyle.