Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and the leading cause of blindness in the world. A condition that commonly develops as the eye ages, by the time we reach 80, more than half of us will have developed a cataract.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye, which is normally transparent. The lens, located inside the eye behind the iris and the pupil, focuses light onto the retina at the back of your eye where it is converted to nerve signals that are passed to the brain, allowing you to see. When your lens becomes cloudy, the images projected onto your retina become blurry and unfocused and therefore the signal to the brain is also unclear. You can compare this to looking through a dirty or cloudy window. If the window is not clear, you can’t see well.
Usually, cataracts develop slowly over time so your vision gradually worsens. While the majority of cataracts are a result of the aging process, there are also congenital cataracts that are present at birth, secondary cataracts that result from eye surgery or diseases such as glaucoma or diabetes and traumatic cataracts that result at any age from an injury to the eye.
What is the treatment for cataracts?
Even though cataracts are so prevalent, they are very simple to treat. While you may be able to live with mild or moderate cataracts, severe cataracts are treated with surgery. The procedure involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant. Cataract surgery is a common procedure that has a very high success rate of restoring vision to patients. Modern cataract surgery is frequently done as an outpatient procedure. Patients will have greatly improved vision the next day and will continue to improve over the next few weeks. Surgery is often done in one eye first, and surgery on the second eye, if needed, may be done 2 weeks later.
Is cataract removal safe?
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries with a success rate of 95 percent. Your surgeon will remove your clouded lens and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL). Only a minuscule incision in the cornea is necessary to do this procedure, and it can be completed in about 15 minutes in an outpatient surgery center.
Do cataracts only affect seniors?
Cataracts can affect anyone! Although most people do not show symptoms of cataracts until at least the age of 40, cataracts can also affect young adults or even children. Heredity, disease, eye injury and smoking could cause cataracts to develop at an earlier age.
Can I prevent cataracts?
There is no proven way to prevent age-related cataracts. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow the progression of cataracts. Some ways to delay the progression of cataracts include avoiding smoking, reducing exposure to UV rays, eating healthy foods, and wearing proper eye protection to avoid eye injury.
For more information on cataracts and EYEcenter’s cataract surgery co-management program, click here.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.