July 10, 2022
Contributing Author: Dr. Thanh Nguyen
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), cataracts are one of the primary causes of blindness in the United States, affecting millions of people each year. More than 24.4 million Americans are affected by cataracts, and it’s estimated that by age 75, half of all Americans will have cataracts.
Cataracts can be treated with a quick, simple, and relatively safe surgery. Approximately 3 million cataract surgeries are performed annually in the United States.
Imagine the human eye as a camera, where the natural human lens is the camera lens and the retina is the film. Light is refracted onto the retina by transparent lenses in a healthy eye. When cataracts develop, the lenses become cloudy. This cloudiness prevents light from passing through the lens properly, resulting in blurry vision, double vision, halos/glares and decreased color discrimination. Cataracts can impair one or both eyes, but they do not spread from one to the other.
Age-related changes in the eyes are the cause of most cataracts. The eye lens is primarily made of water and protein. However, as you age, some of the protein clumps together and begin to cloud a small area of the lens, resulting in cataracts. The cataract will gradually grow and cloud more of the lens over time, making it difficult to see.
In addition to the natural aging process, the following risk factors can also increase your likelihood of having the disease:
While cataracts develop slowly and will not impair your vision at first, they will eventually interfere with your vision and may even cause vision loss. The following are the most common symptoms of cataracts. However, each person may experience cataract symptoms differently:
These symptoms may also indicate other eye diseases. Consult your eye doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Although the natural aging process causes most cataracts, there are other types of cataracts. They are categorized according to how and where they occur in the eye:
Age-Related Lens Changes:
Other causes of cataract include drug-induced lens changes, traumatic cataracts, congenital cataracts, radiation cataracts, metabolic cataracts, and inflammation-associated cataracts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20.5 million Americans aged 40 and above have a cataract in one or both eyes, with 6.1 million having had their lens surgically removed. It is estimated that the number of people with cataracts will rise to 30.1 million by 2020.
Both cataracts and glaucoma are severe conditions that can lead to visual loss. However, cataract-related visual loss can be restored with surgery. Glaucoma-related visual loss is currently irreversible.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), cataract surgery is the only way to get rid of a cataract. However, cataract surgery is an elective procedure, and if your cataract symptoms do not interfere with your daily activities, an updated eyeglass prescription may be all you need to see better. Cataract surgery is only recommended when alternative measures do not help or when cataracts interfere with your quality of life.
You can make an informed decision about whether cataract surgery is right for you once you understand the benefits and risks of the procedure. In most cases, delaying surgery will not result in long-term eye damage. However, when the cataract is very mature, there is an increased risk of complications during cataract surgeries, including but not limited to longer surgery, need for second surgery, worsening vision, and rarely the loss of sight.
Cataract surgery is a simple procedure that typically lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. It is frequently performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia, and you should be able to return home the same day.
You will be given eye drops to dilate your pupil, a sedative to help you relax. Local anaesthetic agents are given around and inside the eye. During cataract surgery, the clouded natural lens of your eye will be removed and replaced with an artificial lens (intraocular lens or IOL). In certain instances, a cataract can be extracted without the implantation of an artificial lens.
The following surgical methods are used to eliminate cataracts:
Your vision is essential to your daily life, and the thought of losing it can be frightening. To avoid vision loss, you must understand some of the best ways to care for your eyes. A simple eye examination every one or two years can mean the difference between having healthy eyes and having vision problems.
Here at OOMC, our patient’s well-being is our priority. Our dedicated team of surgeons and staff always makes an effort to create a safe and secure environment where you can easily access care comfortably and confidently.
Contact one of our centers nearest to you for further information.
Corneal Associates of New Jersey
Kremer Eye Center
Ludwick Eye Center
Omni Eye Services
Phillips Eye Center