What Are Cataracts?
The lens in your eye acts like the lens of a camera and focuses light on the retina. Like a zoom lens, your eye’s lens helps you shift your focus from close up to far away. The lens is mostly water and protein. As you grow older, the clear lens can become cloudy, as the proteins begin to form small clumps that can affect vision. These clumps reduce the sharpness in your vision.
In addition, your lens can gradually become yellowish or brownish in tone. This can impact your ability to see colors. Colors may appear to be faded rather than bright. In addition, if the darkening becomes advanced, you may be unable to distinguish blues and purples.
Photo Credits: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
You may also have difficulty with night vision – and in particular, with driving at night. On-coming headlights or street lights may seem too bright. You may feel an uncomfortable glare from lights, or even from bright sunlight. Some people describe the sensation of a halo surrounding lights.
In the early stages of developing a cataract, you may not notice any changes in your vision. However, as your vision gradually changes, you may require frequent changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses. Sometimes, people find that their near vision seems to improve, but this is only temporary.
While cataracts are normally associated with aging, cataracts can also form as a result of a traumatic injury to the eye – sometimes years later. They can also occur as a secondary cataract, either as a result of surgery for another eye disorder such as glaucoma, or as a consequence of a systemic disease such as diabetes. Cataracts may also develop as a result of exposure to radiation.
Cataracts can be a congenital problem, appearing in babies or developing during childhood. Congenital cataracts may be so small that they do not affect a child’s vision, or in severe cases, may require surgery.
Who Is at Risk for Cataracts?
Everyone is at risk for developing age-related cataracts. People can develop cataracts in their 40s and 50s. Such cataracts are usually small and do not affect your vision. For most people, vision loss begins to occur in their 60s.
If you have diabetes, your risk for developing cataracts is increased. In addition, smoking or drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can also increase your risk for developing age-related cataracts. Therefore, we strongly recommend wearing sunglasses whenever you are outside in the sun.
How Is a Cataract Detected?
To diagnose a cataract requires a comprehensive eye examination, which includes the following:
Treatment of Cataracts
Following testing, your doctor will discuss the results and recommended treatment options with you. If you are told that you have a cataract, there is no need to be overly concerned, as you are not alone. Each year in the United States, more than 2.5 million people have cataract surgery. Thanks to advanced surgical procedures and technology, cataract surgery is not only one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States. It is also one of the safest and most successful surgical procedures that you can have.
Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and usually only requires less than an hour of your time from beginning to end. The actual procedure takes about 10-15 minutes. Your cataract surgery experience will be comfortable, with minimal discomfort and interruption of your daily activities and lifestyle. To learn more about cataract surgery, visit the following links:
Cataract Specialists at Kadrmas Eye Care New England
Meet our ophthalmologists who specialize in the treatment of cataracts: