Cataract Care & Surgery

Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens bends (refracts) light rays that come into the eye to help us see and should be clear. When a cataract develops, the lens has become cloudy and it is like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things can look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.

Aging is the most common cause for cataracts. This is due to normal eye changes that happen starting around age 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens start to break down. This is what causes the lens to get cloudy. People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later. Other reasons you may get cataracts could include having parents, brothers, sisters or other family members who have cataracts, having certain medical problems such as diabetes, having had an eye injury, eye surgery or radiation treatments on your upper body, having spent a lot of time in the sun especially without sunglasses that protect your eyes from damaging UV rays or using certain medications such as corticosteroids, which may cause early formation of cataracts.

Types of Cataracts

Subcapsular Cataract

A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.

Nuclear Cataract

A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone of the lens. Nuclear cataracts usually are associated with aging.

Cortical Cataract

A cortical cataract is characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion. This type of cataract occurs in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus.

 

Cataract Symptoms

At first, a cataract could have little effect on your vision. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little, similar to looking through a cloudy piece of glass. Or you may notice when you drive at night that the oncoming headlights cause more glare than before. Other changes that you may notice if you have a cataract include:

  • Seeing double (when you see two images instead of one)
  • Being extra sensitive to light
  • Having trouble seeing well at night or needing more light when you read
  • Seeing bright colors as faded or yellow

 

Cataract Treatment

Cataracts can be removed only with surgery. If your cataract symptoms are not bothering you very much, you don’t have to remove a cataract. You might just need a new eyeglass prescription to help you see better. You should consider surgery when cataracts keep you from doing things you want or need to do.

During cataract surgery, the surgeon will remove your eye’s cloudy natural lens. Then he or she will replace it with an artificial lens. This new lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). When you decide to have cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will talk with you about IOLs and how they work.

People who have had cataract surgery may have their vision become hazy again years later. This is usually because the eye’s capsule has become cloudy. The capsule is the part of your eye that holds the IOL in place. Your ophthalmologist can use a laser to open the cloudy capsule and restore clear vision. This is called a capsulotomy.

Cataracts are a very common reason people lose vision, but they can be treated. You and your ophthalmologist should discuss your cataract symptoms. Together you can decide whether you are ready for cataract surgery.

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Dr. Kuiper will join Ophthalmology Associates August 5, 2019 and specializes in comprehensive ophthalmology, LASIK and more.

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