Cataracts can cause a variety of visual symptoms depending on the type and severity of the lens clouding. Common symptoms include:
Difficulty with night driving
Difficulty seeing in bright sunlight
Increased glare or halos from lights, especially car headlights
Needing more light to read.
Cataracts are the clouding of the natural lens found inside the eye. They are an age-related condition, and, unfortunately, all people will develop cataracts to some extent if they live long enough. Cataracts form slowly over years, and how quickly they progress is variable from person to person. For some people, cataracts progress to the point where cataract surgery is recommended to improve vision. Although cataracts are a common eye condition, there are lifestyle modifications you can do to reduce your risk of developing cataracts significant enough to require surgery.
The National Eye Institute recommends protecting your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) and high-energy visible (HEV) rays by always wearing good quality sunglasses while outdoors. Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and absorb most HEV rays with large lenses or a close-fitting wraparound style. Remember that the peak hours for sun exposure are between 10 am and 3 pm or 11 am and 4 pm during daylight savings time and that the sun’s rays are strong enough to pass through clouds, so you need your sunglasses every day.
If you haven’t quit already, here’s another good reason to do it: over time, the damage from smoking can cause cataracts to progress more quickly than normal. The good news is – by quitting smoking now, you can slow the progression of cataracts.
Studies have shown that certain vitamins and nutrients may reduce age-related decline in eye health, particularly antioxidants. This list isn’t exhaustive, but here are some examples to get you started: dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, pecans, carrots, sweet potatoes, artichokes, kale, red cabbage, beans, beets, spinach, apples, and plums.
Doctors also recommend eating more fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. This has been linked to a potentially reduced risk of cataracts or their progression. You may also consider taking a multivitamin that contains Vitamin C and E.
If your cataracts become significant enough they affect your vision, your doctor may recommend cataract surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded natural lens from your eye. The natural lens is replaced with a plastic lens implant during surgery. The implant lasts your lifetime and never has to be replaced. Once a cataract is removed, the surgery never has to be repeated, and your vision will return to its maximum visual potential as long as you don’t have any other eye diseases limiting your vision.
Take control of your cataract diagnosis by getting regular eye exams, communicating with your doctor, and putting these tips into practice. If you have concerns about whether you have cataracts, or whether you need cataract surgery, contact our office today!
Cataract surgery is a common surgical procedure performed to remove a cataract, which is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye that causes blurred vision. The surgery aims to replace the cloudy lens with an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), to restore clear vision.
Here is a step-by-step explanation of the cataract surgery process:
Preoperative evaluation: Before the surgery, you will undergo a comprehensive eye examination to assess the extent of your cataract, measure the shape and size of your eye, and determine the power of the IOL needed for optimal vision correction.
Anesthesia: Cataract surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you do not have to stay overnight in the hospital. Local anesthesia is used to numb the eye region, often in the form of eye drops or an injection around the eye. You may also receive a mild sedative to help you relax during the procedure.
Incision: A tiny incision is made in the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. Nowadays, surgeons often use a technique called phacoemulsification, which involves using an ultrasound probe to break up the cataract into tiny fragments. These fragments are then removed through the incision.
Lens removal: Once the cataract is broken up and removed, the natural lens capsule, a thin membrane that held the lens in place, is left intact. The surgeon thoroughly cleans the capsule to ensure it is free from any remaining lens material.
Intraocular lens implantation: An artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is then inserted into the lens capsule. The IOL is typically made of plastic, silicone, or acrylic material and is designed to correct your vision, often targeting your specific refractive error, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
Closure: The surgeon ensures that the IOL is positioned correctly and securely within the lens capsule. The incision is usually self-sealing and does not require stitches. In some cases, a protective shield or patch may be placed over the eye for a short period after surgery.
The entire procedure usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes, although the exact duration can vary depending on the complexity of the cataract and the surgeon's technique. After the surgery, you will be monitored for a short time to ensure that there are no immediate complications.
Recovery from cataract surgery is typically quick, and you may experience improved vision within a day or two. Your eye may be temporarily sensitive to light and touch, and you may be prescribed eye drops to prevent infection and promote healing. It's important to follow the postoperative instructions provided by your surgeon, including attending follow-up appointments.
Cataract surgery is considered safe and highly effective, with a high success rate in improving vision and quality of life for patients with cataracts. However, as with any surgery, there are risks and potential complications, such as infection, bleeding, inflammation, and posterior capsule opacification (clouding of the capsule behind the IOL). Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you and address any concerns you may have before proceeding with the surgery.
Multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs) and single vision IOLs are both used in cataract surgery and Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) to replace the natural lens of the eye. However, they differ in how they address vision correction.
Single Vision IOLs: Single vision IOLs are designed to provide clear vision at a single fixed distance, typically distance vision. They correct vision problems like nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism by focusing light on the retina for distant objects. This means that after the surgery, most people will still require glasses or contact lenses for near and intermediate vision tasks such as reading or computer work.
Multifocal IOLs: Multifocal IOLs, on the other hand, are designed to provide vision correction at multiple distances. They have different zones or rings with varying focal lengths on the lens surface, allowing light to be focused at different distances simultaneously. This enables people to have clearer vision at both near and distance ranges without relying on glasses or contact lenses. The brain adapts to the different focal points and selects the appropriate one based on the distance of the viewed object.
Multifocal IOLs provide the advantage of reducing or eliminating the need for glasses after cataract surgery. They offer better functional vision across various distances, including near, intermediate (such as working on a computer), and distance vision. However, they can have some drawbacks, such as reduced contrast sensitivity or the presence of halos and glare around lights, particularly in low-light conditions. The amount of glare varies with different types of multifocal IOLs. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for multifocal IOLs, and individual visual needs should be considered when choosing the type of lens.
It's important to note that both types of IOLs have their own pros and cons, and the choice between multifocal and single vision IOLs should be made based on an individual's preferences, lifestyle, visual needs, and the advice of an eye care provider. Contact our office if you are interested in learning more about the IOL options available for cataract or RLE surgery.