A cataract is a natural clouding of the old lens in the eye. Cataracts are exceedingly common and typically become significant between ages 55 and 80 years of age. Not all cataracts require surgery. Cataract symptoms can include blurred distance vision, poor night time or daytime driving vision, hazy or dull vision, glare with lights, blurred reading vision, poor vision for hobbies, poor color vision. Early cataracts commonly cause changes in eyeglass prescriptions. When diminished vision from cataracts impairs daily activities, important functions or driving, then it’s time to consider cataract surgery.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Individuals with cataracts may experience the following signs or symptoms:
- Cloudy or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or glare from lights
- Impaired night vision, especially when driving
- Difficulty with reading not due to macular degeneration
- Difficulty with distance vision and television
- Dulled color vision
- Double vision from one eye
- Frequent changes to eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions
How are cataracts diagnosed?
Assessment of well developed cataracts requires a complete dilated medical eye exam. During this exam, our doctors will review your symptoms and visual limitations. Best distance and reading vision and its limitations will be determined. Exam of the whole eye and eyelids will be done. A slit lamp microscope is used to assess the pattern of the cataract. Dr. Gilbert likes to view through the cataract with an ophthalmoscope to get a good measure of its visual impact. The eye is also checked for macular degeneration and glaucoma which may selectively warrant additional diagnostic testing.
How are cataracts treated?
A diagnosis of cataract does not necessarily warrant surgical intervention. Early cataracts can be monitored and often require changes in eyeglass prescriptions. If the cataract is significantly impairing vision or daily activities and is not adequately improved by eye glasses, then cataract surgery is often recommended. Cataract surgery removes the cloudy cataractous lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). The IOL is most often placed in a similar position to that of the cataractous lens that was removed. The IOL is a synthetic lens made of plastic, silicone or acrylic. The IOL becomes a permanent and natural appearing, hassle free part of the eye (Lens choice). The cataract surgery itself is safe, effective, and reasonably brief and is done as an outpatient procedure at a cataract surgicenter and does not require hospitalization. After surgery, patients go home, begin using their eye drops and follow up with us the next day in the office.