Inside the eye there is a round lens behind the colored part of the eye called the iris. The lens bends light rays that enter the eye so that they hit the retina, which transmits the message to the brain. A cataract is a clouding of this lens. Usually the clouding occurs over age. Every human will develop a cataract over time. However, sometimes infants are born with a cloudy lens. Other times, trauma to the eye can cause this clouding process.
Signs and symptoms of a cataract can include blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, reduced color vision, and sensitivity to lights. Certain factors can cause cataracts to progress more quickly. These include: certain medications, especially steroids; ultraviolet radiation from the sun; diabetes; heavy smoking and nutritional deficiency.
Fortunately, the treatment of cataracts is quick, painless, and many times performed right in the doctor’s office. The time to consider cataract surgery is when the patient’s daily lifestyle is being affected by the blurred vision. Also, more frequent eyeglass prescription changes can occur, causing a cost factor.
Cataract surgery involves removing the lens with a vacuum/suction type instrument. Then, since this is the power of the eye, the lens is replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular implant. Typically, only eye drop anesthesia is used and the procedure can take as little as three minutes. Also, there are modern types of implants, such as multifocal and those that correct astigmatism. These can relieve the need for glasses after surgery. In addition, the very newest technique of cataract removal involves using a certain type of laser, called bladeless surgery.
If you feel you may have cataracts, it is important to get a comprehensive examination from your eye care provider, and discuss the benefits and risks.