What is a Cataract?
A cataract refers to the clouding or opacification of the eye’s natural lens, which is typically clear and transparent. The lens plays a crucial role in focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye, allowing us to see sharp and clear images. When a cataract develops, it interferes with this process, leading to a gradual decline in vision quality.
Cataracts typically develop slowly over time and are often associated with the natural aging process. However, they can also result from various other factors, including but not limited to ultraviolet radiation exposure, diabetes, smoking, and certain medications. As the cataract progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for light to pass through the cloudy lens, causing vision to become blurry, hazy, or dim.
Cataracts can significantly impact a person’s daily life and independence, as they can make it difficult to perform routine tasks such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces. The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgical removal. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to restore clear vision.
Symptoms of Cataracts
- Cloudy / blurry vision
- Pale colors
- Glare from bright lights such as car headlights, lamps etc. A halo may appear around lights
- Poor night vision
- Double / multiple vision
- Rapid eye prescription changes
It is crucial for individuals experiencing symptoms of cataracts to seek prompt evaluation and consultation with an ophthalmologist, a medical specialist trained in the diagnosis and management of eye conditions. Early detection and appropriate intervention can help maintain or restore visual clarity and improve overall quality of life. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and successful surgical procedures performed worldwide, with a high rate of patient satisfaction and improved visual outcomes.
Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are other types of cataract:
- Secondary cataract. Cataracts may develop after surgery for other eye conditions, such as glaucoma; occur when there is an underlying disease such as diabetes; or may be due to steroid use.
- Traumatic cataract. As name suggests a cataract may develop after injury.
- Congenital cataract. Present at birth.
- Radiation cataract. Exposure to some types of radiation may cause cataracts to develop.
Our specialists conduct a comprehensive eye exam to confirm cataract diagnosis.
Early stage cataracts can be treated with a new eyeglass prescription, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. As cataracts progress, surgery may be recommended to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a new artificial lens.
Generally, delaying cataract surgery will not be detrimental to eye health although patient safety is kept in mind. Conducting daily activities, such as driving (or even walking!) with impaired vision carries far greater risk than surgery. Cataract surgeries that need to be performed on both eyes are usually done separately with about 1-4 weeks between surgeries.
Cataract removal is considered to be one of the safest and most effective types of surgery with high satisfaction reported by patients.