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.
You can have a cataract in one or both eyes. The position of your cataract will affect what type of vision disturbance you have.
occurs in the center of the lens, often creating temporary near vision improvement
occurs around the edges of the lens, often resulting in spoke-like opacities that move to the center of the lens
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. Blindness can occur if a person chooses not to have cataract surgery. 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.
While cataracts are typically associated with aging, they can also occur due to disease, injury, birth defect or certain medications. Symptoms can include:
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. We will also encourage you to ask any questions 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.
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.
We will ask that you arrive at the surgery facility at the given time so they may obtain any necessary paperwork, insurance information and update your medical history.
The replacement lens you choose will be permanent and will feel natural in your eye.
After your surgery is complete you will be monitored in the post op area where a nurse will review your after surgery instructions with you and your family member. You will be given a time to follow up with your surgeon in the days following your surgery. Once you are comfortable you can go home. You will need someone to drive you home after surgery so you can rest for the remainder of the day. You should wear an eye shield while sleeping as your eye heals to avoid hitting or rubbing your eye and follow any post op instructions provided to you on when to administer eye drops.
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.