Cataracts are a very common eye condition, affecting an estimated 24.4 million Americans over the age of 40. This age-related problem occurs when the natural intraocular lens of the eye starts to develop cloudy patches. As we age, the evenly dispersed proteins that are found in the lens become clumped together. They can develop in one eye or both, and the rate at which they do can vary.
For most patients, cataracts will develop slowly over a number of months and years. This slow development means that it may take a long time before your vision becomes significantly affected. In the early stages of a cataract, your eye doctor at Clarke EyeCare Center will probably recommend that you wear prescription glasses, as these are usually successful in improving your vision so that you can see clearly day to day.
Nevertheless, as cataracts progress you may find that prescription lenses are no longer effective in helping you to enjoy clear vision. This will likely affect your activities of daily living, including reading, driving, and computer work. At this point, you may wish to consider cataract surgery. Surgery is the only effective way to fully treat cataracts and restore patient vision.
What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
The symptoms of cataracts usually develop very slowly and include the following:
Sensitivity to light
Halos around light
It is hard to see in low light conditions
Colors do not seem as bright
For many patients, their condition is detected at their routine eye exams, rather than being the result of a visit to their eye doctor caused by symptoms. Cataracts do not cause any discomfort or pain.
What is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is a very simple and common eye surgery performed by an Opthalmologist. The procedure is performed using local anesthetic, combined with sedation where necessary, meaning that patients are not in any pain at any point. Once suitably anesthetized, an incision is made into the eye to remove the cloudy lens. This same incision is then used to insert an artificial lens, called an IOL or intraocular lens. There are many different types of IOL and your cataract surgeon will be able to help you decide which variety is right for you.
Cataract surgery is usually only performed on one eye at a time. This is because it can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks for your eye to fully recover following your procedure. The entire surgery usually takes less than an hour per eye, and you should be able to go home the same day. Your cataract surgeon will talk to you about the things that you should or should not do following your procedure, such as how to keep your eyes protected and what you should do if you have any concerns about your vision.
If you would like to learn more about cataracts or have any questions about how we identify cataracts as part of our comprehensive eye exams, call Clarke EyeCare Center in Wichita Falls and Burkburnett, Texas at 940-905-0700 or 940-569-4131.