A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye that causes blurry vision and often halos and glare. Vision loss occurs because opacification of the lens obstructs light from passing through and being focused on to the retina at the back of the eye.
What Causes Cataracts?
Most cataracts are age-related and progress gradually taking years to impair vision. The development of cataracts are a natural part of aging and are usually found in persons in their sixties and seventies and progress gradually taking years to impair vision. Younger persons can develop them as well, and some cataracts advance quickly due to trauma, diabetes, use of steroid medication, overexposure to ultraviolet light, and smoking.
The lens lies behind the iris and pupil and works to focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye. As light enters the front of the eye, it passes through the cornea and the pupil and is then focused by the lens. The lens is made of mostly water and proteins. As we age, this protein can clump together and become opaque. Much like trying to look through a foggy window, the clouding is what causes blurriness and difficulty seeing and is called a cataract.
While there is no guaranteed way to avoid cataracts, wearing eyewear and sunwear that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays, discontinuing smoking, and eating a diet rich in antioxidants can slow the onset.
Signs & Symptoms
People with cataracts commonly experience difficulty appreciating colors and changes in contrast, clouded, blurred or dim vision, increasing difficulty with vision at night, sensitivity to light and glare, frequent changes in eyeglasses or contact prescriptions, difficulty reading in low light, or double vision in a single eye. If you notice any changes in your vision or develop sudden vision changes such as double vision or blurriness contact Dr. Ericksen for an appointment right away.
Treatment for cataracts is safe and effective. Cataract surgery is one of the world’s most frequently performed procedures and has a very low rate of complications. Most cataract surgery is performed in a hospital or surgical center. The most common form of cataract surgery uses a process called phacoemulsification to remove the cataract through a small incision. Once removed, an artificial lens is placed into the eye to help focus light providing clear vision.
Either local anesthesia or topical anesthetic eye drops are used during surgery. An anesthesiologist specialist monitors the patient for safety throughout the surgery. The actual operation usually takes 20 minutes or less.
Dr. Ericksen refers to ophthalmologists who use the latest surgical techniques for cataract removal and offer a wide variety of lens implants including multifocal and astigmatism correcting lenses. Dr. Ericksen then walks the post-operative journey with you answering your questions along the way. If you have questions about cataracts or other eye health conditions, please call Beyond Vision LNK to set up an appointment with Dr. Ericksen.