When it comes to surgery, knowledge is power. Perhaps you are starting to notice some of the early symptoms of cataracts, have already have been diagnosed, or love someone who has cataracts. In any case, it’s wise to have a basic understanding of this extremely common condition in order to be able to advocate on your or your loved one’s behalf every step of the way.
What Is A Cataract?
A cataract is a build-up of protein that forms in a formerly clear natural lens, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. The lens is the clear part of the eye that’s responsible for focusing light and images back to the retina. This is then translated into nerve signals that tell our brain what we are looking at. When you have cataracts, the image received by the retina will be blurry, resulting in blurred vision.
A person can develop cataracts in either eye or both. This condition is often referred to as “age-related” cataracts, as more than half of Americans who the age of eighty and over have cataracts or already have had surgery to remove their cataracts. This is a slight misnomer because people as young as 40 can start to develop cataracts, but they may not notice any significant symptoms until they are much older.
Causes Of Cataracts
The lenses in our eyes are primarily made up of water and protein arranged to keep the lens clear, allowing light to pass through to the retina. As we age, proteins can begin to clump together, clouding a small area of the lens. Smoking and diabetes have also been tied to an increased risk of developing cataracts.
Cataracts Symptoms And Your Vision
Symptoms can include:
- Double vision in the affected eye
- Reduced or diminished night vision
- Faded colors
- Your vision looking cloudy or blurry
- Seeing glare and halos around bright lights, or lights seeming too bright
Another sign of cataracts is if your prescription changes frequently for your eyeglasses or contacts. These symptoms could also point to other eye conditions, so talk to your eye doctor at Georgia Eye Associates if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Cataract Risk Factors
- Alcohol use
- High levels of exposure to the sun’s UV rays. This is why it’s important to always wear UVB sunglasses!
Early symptoms can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contacts. Anti-glare sunglasses may also help. Surgery should be discussed with your eye doctor when your cataract has grown large enough to disrupt your vision or your daily routine, including driving and reading.
How Effective Is Surgery?
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and effective surgeries you can undergo, and is one of the most commonly performed procedures.
Risks Associated With Cataract Surgery
As with any surgery, there are risks with cataract removal surgery. Infection and bleeding are possible risks, so you should talk to your doctor about any medications that you may be on, as they can increase your risk of complications. Infection risk can be minimized by keeping your hands clean and following your surgeon’s post-op directives.
Reducing Your Risk Of Developing Cataracts
- Wear UVB sunglasses
- Quit smoking
- Eat foods high in antioxidants
- See your eye doctor for regular checkups
Have additional questions about cataract surgery? Contact Georgia Eye Associates to schedule a consultation with one of our doctors!