Cataracts are inevitable. A cataract is something we’re all likely to experience, and at Eye Center, Inc. we are here to guide you through the treatment process. A cataract slowly develops over many years. It’s not dangerous or life-threatening, and there is a simple procedure to correct the problem.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which bends or refracts the passage of light into the eye. The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the colored iris, and it is supposed to be clear. The lens helps to focus images onto the retina – which transmits the images to the brain. When a cataract forms, your vision may become blurry or dim as the cataract prevents light from properly passing to your retina. It’s like you’re looking through a dusty car windshield.
Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 in the United States. More than half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old, and they are the principle cause of blindness in the world. However, cataracts can also occasionally be found in young people or even newborn babies.
What causes cataracts?
The exact cause of a cataract is unknown. Most often, a cataract is simply a natural part of getting older. As you age, your likelihood of developing a cataract increases. There are several possible contributing factors for cataracts, such as:
- Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Events before birth, such as German measles in the mother
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes
- Inflammation in the eye
- Long-term steroid use
- Hereditary influences
- Eye diseases
- Eye injuries
Generally, a cataract does not cause tears, redness or pain. The following problems may indicate that you have a cataract:
- You have double vision, ghost images, blurred vision, or the sense of a “film” over your eyes.
- You change eyeglass prescriptions often and the change does not seem to help your vision.
- Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work, or you are “dazzled” by strong light.
- You may also be able to see the cataract in your eye. It could look like a milky or yellowish spot in your pupil.
Why do cataracts cause blurred vision?
Your eye works like a camera. A camera needs a lens to focus on an image. But if the lens is dirty or cloudy, the camera can’t take a clear picture. The same occurs with your eyes. Your eye lens focuses rays of light on the nerve tissue at the back of your eye (the retina). The retina then transmits a clear image to your brain. But when a cataract clouds your eye’s lens, light rays don’t pass through as well and the retina cannot transmit a good picture.
What are the types of cataracts?
Age-related – 95% of cataracts are age-related, usually after age 40.
Congenital – These are present at birth, usually caused by infection or inflammation during pregnancy; possibly inherited.
Traumatic – Lens damage from a hard blow, puncture, cut, chemical burn or intense heat may cause cataracts.
Secondary – These cataracts are caused by eye infection, eye disease, some medicines, or diseases such as diabetes.
Cataracts usually form in both eyes but at different rates. They can develop slowly or quickly, or progress to a certain point and stop getting worse. As a result, you may notice gradual changes to your sight rather than an immediate, significant difference.
When is it time to get surgery?
Each year in the U.S., more than two million cataract surgeries are performed. Cataract surgeries are successfully performed without any complications in over 95% of cases. Nonetheless, it’s natural to have concerns and questions about the procedure.
Cataract surgery is your choice, and Eye Center, Inc. is here to guide you in the decision-making process.
When you reach a point where you are unable to do all the things you want to do while wearing your glasses, it is likely time to consider surgery. If you decide to have surgery, we will work together with you as a team to determine the best treatment plan — the one you are most comfortable with.
It is not advisable for individuals to have cataract surgery if the follow scenarios apply:
- cataracts have not prohibited you from doing the things you want/need to do
- your vision will not improve with surgery due to other eye problems
- glasses or contact lenses can provide satisfactory vision
- you are not well or fit enough for surgery
- you do not want surgery
At Eye Center, Inc. we will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your cataracts. Give us a call today to make an appointment!