WHAT ARE CATARACTS?

IS YOUR VISION SUFFERING FROM CATARACTS?

Cataracts are a normal occurrence in an aging eye: your transparent eye lens begins to cloud over with the gradual build-up of naturally-occurring proteins in the eye. Instead of allowing light to enter properly, the cloudy lens creates a foggy appearance to everything you see.

Gradual changes in vision can often go unnoticed if you do not have regular eye exams. If you are age 60 or older, your vision may be suffering from cataracts. However, you may be compensating for these vision changes or simply think that you have to live with inferior vision as you grow older.

This could not be farther from the truth. Although cataracts affect half of all Americans by age 75, this is a treatable condition with cataract surgery. At Palmetto Eye & Laser Center we perform cataract surgery to help patients restore their clear vision. Cataract surgery is considered a safe and effective procedure when performed by an experienced doctor.

This process does not happen overnight. It is typically a slow development that makes it increasingly difficult to see things clearly and perform daily tasks. An eye exam will detect the presence and severity of cataracts. It is quite common to have cataracts but still be able to live your life without them affecting your day-to-day life. As they grow in size and opacity, they can make it more difficult to drive, read, work, participate in sports and do hobbies. It will be up to you to decide when you want to improve your vision – and your quality of life – through cataract surgery.

 

TYPES OF CATARACTS

You can have a cataract in one or both eyes. The position of your cataract will affect what type of vision disturbance you have.

NUCLEAR CATARACT

occurs in the center of the lens, often creating temporary near vision improvement

CORTICAL CATARACT

occurs around the edges of the lens, often resulting in spoke-like opacities that move to the center of the lens

SUBCAPSULAR CATARACT

occurs at the back of the lens, often masking symptoms until the later stages

While there is no cure for cataracts, cataract surgery is a very common and effective procedure to restore clear vision. While some people may not have cataract surgery, this can lead to blindness. Untreated cataracts are the main cause of blindness worldwide. At Palmetto Eye & Laser Center, we perform exams to assess your cataract development and recommend cataract surgery if you have not noticed that your vision is not as crisp as it used to be

WHAT ARE CATARACTS?

Cataracts are a normal occurrence in an aging eye: your transparent eye lens begins to cloud over with the gradual build-up of naturally-occurring proteins in the eye. Instead of allowing light to enter properly, the cloudy lens creates a foggy appearance to everything you see.

This process does not happen overnight. It is typically a slow development that makes it increasingly difficult to see things clearly and perform daily tasks.

SYMPTOMS OF CATARACTS

VISION WITHOUT CATARACTS
VISION WITH CATARACTS

While cataracts are typically associated with aging, they can also occur due to disease, injury, birth defect or certain medications. Symptoms can include:

  • Hazy/blurry/cloudy vision
  • Glare and starbursts with night driving
  • Dull appearance of colors
  • Vision takes on a yellowish/brownish tint
  • Eye sensitivity in bright light

CATARACT EVALUATION

A cataract evaluation at Palmetto Eye & Laser Center involves several pain-free tests to determine your eye health. These cataract tests are performed to identify the presence, severity and position of any cataracts that may be affecting your vision. Plan to spend 2 hours at our office for this evaluation.

    Cataract Tests

    • Visual acuity test to assess your distance and near vision
    • Refractive error measurement to determine your glasses prescription
    • Measurements of your cornea (Topography) Images of the retina & Macula
    • Evaluation of your retinal health (back of the eye)
    • Eye pressure measurement to determine the presence of glaucoma
    • Review of your overall health

    Depending on the outcome of these initial tests, your surgeon may request other testing if other eye issues are suspected.

    The retinal examination requires that your eyes be dilated so it is easier for the doctor to see the back of your eye. Because of this fact, you may want to have someone drive you home after your cataract evaluation.

    We view the cataract evaluation as a two-way communication street: We will ask you questions about how your vision is interfering with your daily activities and We encourage you to ask any question you have about your condition and your treatment options. We are committed to providing you with as much education as possible so you can make your own informed decision about how to care for your eye health.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CATARACT SURGERY

Cataract surgery is an amazingly quick outpatient procedure that can erase years of poor vision. The entire surgical process takes 15 minutes to perform.

When you decide to move forward with the procedure, it’s normal to feel a little nervous. Our staff understands this and will do everything we can to make you as comfortable and relaxed as possible. The main goal is that you feel 100% confident in our surgical abilities.

CATARACT SURGERY DAY

We will ask that you arrive at the surgery facility at the given time to complete any necessary paperwork, give yourself time to relax and allow your cataract surgeon to perform one final check on your vision.

  • Dilation eye drops will be placed into your eye and local anesthetics will be given. You will remain awake during the procedure.
  • Your doctor will create a small corneal incision and gently break up the cloudy lens. This makes it less invasive to remove the lens fragments from the eye. This is called phacoemulsification.
  • Through the same incision, your doctor will insert your pre-chosen replacement intraocular lens (IOL). Depending on the type of vision goals you have after surgery, you may choose a monofocal, multifocal, trifocal or TORIC lens. Each lens will provide a different level of vision – possibly even reducing or eliminating the need for glasses after surgery.
  • Most incisions heal on their own but in extreme cases, a stitch may be used to help with the healing/closing.

The replacement lens you choose will be permanent and will feel natural in your eye.

AFTER CATARACT SURGERY

After relaxing in the post-op area for a while and your doctor has visited you again, you can go home. You will need someone to drive you home after surgery so you can rest for the remainder of the day. Wear an eye shield while sleeping as your eye heals to avoid hitting or rubbing your eye.

Your vision may be a bit blurry at first and your eye may be itchy or irritated – this is normal. The prescription eye drops will help minimize discomfort. If you experience any pain or worrisome symptoms, contact our office immediately.

Only one eye is treated at a time. If you have cataracts in both eyes, your second eye can be treated after the first has healed (minimum of 2 weeks later).

Remember: not all cataracts must be removed right away. The best way to know if your cataracts are developed enough to warrant surgery is by scheduling a cataract evaluation. Our informative exam will shed new light on your eye health and will help you learn more about your options for vision improvement.