Cataracts develop due to age or injury on the tissue making up the eye lens. The lens becomes cloudy when protein fibers in it start breaking down. Some hereditary disorders cause health problems that increase the risk of developing cataracts.
You can develop cataracts from diseases such as diabetes or past eye conditions. Prolonged use of steroid medications can also lead to cataract development.
At first, you may not be aware of vision deterioration as the cataract starts forming in a small portion of your eye lens. However, as it continues growing, the cloudiness spreads to your lens and distorts the light that enters. At this stage, you will start noticing symptoms such as:
Dim, clouded, or blurred vision
Trouble seeing at night
Sensitivity to glare and light
Need for more light to do activities such as reading
Frequent changes in prescription contact lenses and eyeglasses
Yellowing or fading of colors
Seeing double in one eye
Seeing halos around light sources
It is essential to make an appointment with your eye doctor for an examination if you start to notice vision changes. If you experience light flashes, sudden headaches, or eye pain, seek medical help and get your eyes checked.
The only way to treat cataracts is through surgery. If your eye doctor catches the problem early enough, you may manage it by getting a new prescription for your eyeglasses for a short while. A magnifying glass or brighter lights may help if you struggle to read. You may also need special glasses with an antiglare coating if you have difficulty driving at night.
There are different surgical procedures for cataracts, but one thing remains the same throughout them all - your eye surgeon will remove the cloudy lens and use an artificial one as a replacement. During surgery, you will be under sedation but remain awake. The surgery is an outpatient procedure that takes 15 to 20 minutes.
If both of your eyes have cataracts, your doctor will treat one eye and wait for it to heal to move to the second one. Below are the different surgeries your doctor can use:
Small-incision surgery - Your surgeon may call this procedure phacoemulsification. They will make a small incision on the cornea and put a small device to break the cloudy lens by releasing ultrasound waves. After, they will remove the pieces then replace the lens with an artificial one
Large-incision surgery - Your doctor may suggest this if the cataract causes too many vision problems. They will remove the clouded lens as one piece then replace it with an artificial one. You may need more time to heal than you would in small-incision surgery
Femtosecond laser surgery - Your surgeon will break up the cloudy lens using a laser then replace it with an artificial lens. They may prefer this type of surgery if you have a curved cornea or astigmatism. They can also treat the problem during the same procedure by reshaping the cornea
Cataract surgery is among the safest surgeries performed in the United States. Your chances of experiencing complications are low. However, it is ideal to always discuss risks with your eye doctor. Some people report getting infections and experiencing vision loss after the procedure.
For more about treating cataracts, contact Kopolow & Girisgen Doctors of Optometry at our offices in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can call us at (702) 452-2020 or (702) 341-7254 to book an appointment today.