Cataract Surgery FAQ's

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cataract?
A cataract is usually the result of the natural aging process. As you get older, the natural lens, located behind the iris in your eye, may gradually begin to get "cloudy" and interfere with light and images getting to your retina. As the lens becomes cloudier, your vision slowly becomes more blurred. If allowed to remain, the cataract will progress to the point where there will be a complete loss of vision in your eye.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?
The common complaints of patients with cataracts include blurry vision, hypersensitivity to glare and lights, poor night vision, difficulty with street sign images and words on a television screen and believing areas and objects, like a book page, always need more light.

How are cataracts diagnosed?
Visual Acuity Test- this tests how clearly the individual can see an object. It tests the person's sharpness of vision
Dilated Examination- eye drops are administered which dilate the pupils, providing a bigger window to the back of the eyes. The physician examines the lens for signs of a cataract.

Can cataracts be prevented?
There are no eye drops, medicines, dietary supplements or eye exercises that can prevent or cure cataracts. However, limited exposure to ultraviolet light and always protecting your eyes when outside is highly recommended.

Do cataracts spread from one eye to the other eye?
No. In age related cataracts, the clouding effect is directly related to the development and clumping of decomposing proteins in the lens tissue of a specific eye. This process can be different in each lens of each eye so the cataracts may develop sooner in one eye, later in the other. If a cataract is the result of a trauma, only the affected eye will have a cataract. Cataract formation from diabetes or steroid use is usually found in the lenses of both eyes as they are with age related cataract devlopment.

What are the different types of cataracts?
Age-related Cataracts: the majority of cataracts are related to aging.
Congenital Cataracts: some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. Some congenital cataracts do no affect vision, but other do and need to be removed.
Secondary Cataracts: develop primarily as a result of another disease occurrence in the body (i.e., diabetes). Secondary cataract development has been linked to steroid use.
Traumatic Cataracts: eyes that have sustained an injury may develop a traumatic cataract either immediately following the incident, or several years later.

Does a cataract have to be "ripe" before it is removed?
In the past, cataracts were removed only if they were "ripe" or totally opaque and the patient was almost blind. However, with modern surgical techniques a cataract does not have to completely opaque before it is surgically removed. If you have cataracts and are dissatisfied with the quality of your vision, the appropriate time for cataract surgery has arrived.

How are cataracts treated?
Initially, patients with cataracts may be prescribed glasses to improve their vision. If vision loss becomes significant, surgical removal of the clouded lens is recommended.

How does cataract surgery work?
During cataract surgery, your surgeon will remove your eye's cloudy natural lens. Then he will replace it with a clear artificial lens. This new lens is called an intraocular lens (or IOL). When you decide to have cataract surgery, your surgeon and his team will talk with you about IOLs and how they work.

Do you do cataract surgery in both eyes at the same time?
If a patient needs cataract surgery in each eye, surgery on the eye with the worst vision more then likely will be performed first. After this eye has had a chance to heal, cataract surgery is performed on the second eye.

If my doctor recommends cataract surgery, what can I expect?
Over one million cataract surgeries are performed annually in America with a very low rate of complications. The procedure is done in a surgery center or hospital. The patient is awake during the procedure. Topical anesthesia is applied. Intravenous sedation is given to ensure complete comfort. Eye medications are required until the eye is healed. During follow-up examinations your doctor will monitor your healing. When the recovery process is complete, you will be measured for a precription for glasses if necessary.
Cataract surgery is a very successful procedure. More than 95% of all patients have improved vision.



Click on this link to learn more about surgical options for cataracts.

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