What is a Cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the lens of your eye which causes blurred vision. By preventing light rays from passing through the lens normally, a cataract causes the light to be scattered inside the eye.
View this image: Cataract - close-up of the eye
Cataracts are part of the natural aging process and usually affect people over age 60. Statistics show that 70 percent of all people over the age of 75 develop cataracts. As you age, the lenses in your eyes grow less flexible, less transparent and thicker. Certain drugs, trauma and diseases like diabetes can also lead to cataracts. In rare cases, people are born with them (congenital cataracts).
Developing cataracts affect your ability to see clearly and, in some cases, to distinguish true colors such as blacks and blues.
When you have cataracts, you may experience extreme glare on sunny days and/or halos around lights at night. Your vision may be blurred, hazy or cloudy, and you may notice a loss of color discrimination. Diagnosis includes measurement of visual acuity and, following dilation of the eyes, a look into your lenses. If a lens is hazy, shows milky or cloudy areas, and has increased in thickness, you have a cataract.
Surgery to remove the clouded lens is the only effective treatment for a cataract. Your lens is removed ultrasonically and replaced with a man-made, transparent intraocular lens (IOL). The Scott & White Eye Institute offers a variety of IOL options. You and your doctor will determine which IOL is best suited for your needs. The characteristics of your eye are a major determining factor, but your lifestyle can also help determine which lens works best for you and best helps you continue the activities you enjoy.
When both your eyes are affected, surgeries are performed separately. “We don’t operate on every cataract case we see,” says Dr. Mark Hollingsworth, a cataract surgeon at Scott & White Eye Institute. “If cataracts are not limiting your activities we’ll take a watchful waiting approach. However, if cataracts are adversely affecting your work and/or lifestyle, we operate.”
Patients can return home following surgery and resume normal activities the following day. Eye drops are prescribed to control inflammation. Physician follow up is typically the day after surgery, a week later, and again in three or four weeks.
“A lot of places perform cataract surgery,” says Dr. Hollingsworth. “Scott & White Eye Institute’s patients like to come here because we offer friendly, efficient care in a very patient-convenient way. Our outcomes are good, and our patients tell us they appreciate our care.”
The primary goal of cataract surgery is to improve vision as much as possible; some patients will need glasses for reading or others activities following the procedure. However, the lenses offered at the Scott & White Eye Institute can help patients see close, far and in between, reducing the need for glasses. Scott & White will help you determine which lens is right for you.