July 19, 2019
Cataracts is the name given to the clouding of the natural lens of the eye that can obscure and compromise our vision. It is an extremely common problem, particularly amongst older people and age-related cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in those over the age of 60. In fact, by the age of 80, more than half of all Americans will have a cataract or will have undergone cataract surgery to improve their vision.
Cataracts primarily occur as a result of a change to the proteins that, alongside water, make up the lens of the eye. This is the clear part of our eye that focuses light or an image onto our retina, the area of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that transmits messages to our brain to tell us what we can see. As we get older, the proteins in our eyes begin to clump together, causing darker areas that do not allow light to pass through. It is these clumps of protein that are cataracts and that cause our vision to become blurred.
There are some factors that can increase the likelihood of someone developing a cataract, including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged exposure to UV light and being diagnosed with certain health conditions, including diabetes.
The effects of a cataract can vary depending on how far the condition is allowed to progress. Firstly, you will notice the sharpness of your vision decreasing. The images that you see will become increasingly blurred and colors may seem duller than before. Since cataracts are progressive (they worsen, but do not spread from eye to eye), you can expect your vision to become increasingly compromised until you find it difficult to tell the difference between different shades of color, and eventually, you may find it simply impossible to see anything with any clarity.
Cataract surgery is a relatively straightforward procedure that involves replacing the clouded natural lens of your eye with an artificial alternative that you may hear referred to as an IOL. The entire process can usually be carried out in less than an hour and the risk of complications is extremely small if you choose a sufficiently qualified and experienced eye doctor to perform your procedure. For this reason, doing your research ahead of your cataract surgery is essential.
Many people are worried about the use of general anesthetic. Fortunately, cataract surgery can be carried out using a local anesthetic, and sedation may be available if you are feeling anxious about the procedure. This eliminates the risks usually associated with the use of general anesthetic without any adverse effect on the success of your treatment.
It is important to recognize that if you have a cataract in both eyes, you will need to have two separate surgeries to treat them so that the first can heal and your vision can be restored before the second, otherwise your vision will be too compromised to function. It can take up to 6 weeks to recover and have your vision restored after cataract surgery. During this time, you will need to follow the after-care instructions provided by your surgeon precisely to minimize the risks of complications occurring and ensure that you get the best possible outcome from your cataract surgery.
If you have further questions about the safety of cataract surgery, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to see if you are a suitable candidate for this procedure, please get in touch with Modern iCare Optometry in Palm Desert, CA where our team will be happy to assist you (281) 414-4685.