How do cataracts develop?
The eye’s lens is responsible for helping to focus light on the retina in the back of the eye. Cataracts occur when proteins within the lens begin to cluster together, causing the lens to cloud. If the lens is cloudy, it cannot properly focus the image on the retina. This makes vision blurry and colors indistinct. When your lifestyle is threatened by cataracts, it is time to consult a surgeon at Mattax Neu Prater Eye Center about your options.
What causes cataracts?
What causes the lens to cloud? In most cases, the culprit is the normal aging process. If you are age 65 or older, you probably have cataracts, but they may not have progressed to the point that they affect your vision. Certain lifestyle choices and relatively common health conditions, like diabetes, may hasten cataract development. Nutrition may play at least a limited role. Heavy salt consumption, for example, appears to increase the risk of significant cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamins C and E, and selenium, may slow cataract development. All of these are available in common multivitamin formulas. Beyond that, the use of nutritional supplements carries its own risks; you should consult your physician before adding them to your diet.
Are Cataracts Inevitable?
Yes and no.
If you live long enough, you will almost certainly develop cataracts, because they are part of the normal aging process. However, studies suggest accumulated exposure to ultraviolet light causes the natural lens to cloud, and that certain lifestyle choices and relatively common health conditions, like diabetes, hasten cataract development.
How will I know if I have a cataract?
Cataracts do NOT generally cause pain, discomfort, redness, discharge, or sudden, alarming vision changes that would lead you to seek immediate help. The changes caused by cataracts generally develop so slowly that you won’t notice them until they are serious enough to affect your normal lifestyle. Ask yourself these questions: Am I having difficulty driving at night?
- Is it more difficult to see distant objects?
- Does my vision seem blurred or dim?
- Have my eyes become more sensitive to light and glare?
- Do I see a halo around lights?
- Do colors seem “dull”?
- Have I had to change eyeglass prescriptions more frequently than usual?
- Do I need brighter light for reading?
- Does my vision sometimes seem distorted?
- Do I see “ghost” images?
- Have I experienced double vision in one eye only?
Note: Even if you think you do not have cataracts, you should seek medical attention if you are having troublesome eye symptoms.
What happens during surgery?
During the outpatient cataract procedure, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and implants an artificial replacement lens—either a standard lens, or a premium lens—in its place. The incision heals naturally and no stitches are necessary. The procedure is performed in as little as fifteen minutes. After the procedure, you will be allowed to return home. Vision improves immediately following surgery, with complete recovery in a few days.