Patients often mistake cataracts for a disease, but they are better described as an eye disorder. Cataracts develop as we age (everyone will eventually get them) and become more common after the age of 65; they can occur in newborns and children as well.
How Do Cataracts Form?
Your vision depends on maintaining the right balance of fluid and light absorption within your eyes. The fluid-light balance affects different parts of your eye in various ways. When it comes to the lens, that balance depends on water and protein. In the right mixture, the fluid is arranged to let light through; in the wrong mixture the protein begins to clump and clouds the lens. This “cloudy” appearance occurs because the thick protein blocks light from being absorbed by the lens. The lens appears darker and blurrier as the problem worsens.
Symptoms Of Cataracts
A cataract begins with small changes in how light enters your eye. This can result in a vision reduction overall, faded colors or halos of light around objects. The sensation many cataract patients describe is that of looking through dirty eyeglasses.
As your vision becomes more obstructed, these changes become more problematic. Patients describe advanced cataracts as staring into bright headlights. It’s not uncommon for this degree of obstruction to cause poor night vision with extreme sensitivity to glare.
How Are Cataracts Diagnosed And Treated?
Eye care specialists can detect and diagnose cataracts through an extensive eye exam. This exam includes a microscopic examination of the inside of your eye. An optometrist will use this information to develop a treatment plan.
A change in your glasses prescription may solve the problem temporarily, but surgical removal of cataracts is usually inevitable. Due to the delicate nature of the procedure, eye doctors often refrain from surgery until the degree of obstruction associated with cataracts interferes with your daily lifestyle. Improvements in the cataract surgical process and safety of the operation have allowed this treatment option to be performed earlier in life.
What Does Cataract Surgery Involve?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that involves making a small incision in the lens of the eye. This small opening is used to access and remove the cloudy substance from your eye. Once the substance is removed, a lens implant is inserted in its place. The implant, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), mimics the form and function of your natural lens. Advances in cataract surgical techniques mean that while your night vision may always be affected, you will most likely recover the ability to see clearly at a distance. However, even after cataract surgery you may still need eyeglasses for reading and computer use.
At Broome Optical, our skilled eye doctors can detect and diagnose cataracts and develop a treatment plan. A treatment plan may involve referring you to an experienced eye surgeon we personally trust. Broome Optical’s eye care specialists offer follow-up care for cataract surgery as well. This may consist of fitting you for special eyewear, including glasses with non-glare lens coatings and sunglasses to ensure lasting eye health. If you have questions about cataracts or another eye disorder, please fill out and submit the form on this page, or call us.