Good quality vision is important for everyday life, so you may visit your eye doctor each year for regular exams and vision correction. While these tasks will help you see clearly, placing emphasis on the underlying health of your eyes is also important. Considering 20.5 million Americans aged 40 and above suffer with cataracts, understanding this issue is key to your overall health and vision. Unfortunately, you may not be familiar with cataracts, how they develop, and available treatment options. Using this guide, you will understand how cataracts affect your eyes and vision and learn the best option for restoring your eyes.
Clarity on Cataracts
The lens of your eye is responsible for focusing light on the retina, allowing you to see images clearly. If the lens is not clear, the light and images will not be able to register in the brain, making your vision cloudy or blurry. In most cases, the cloudiness of your lens and vision stems from the formation of cataracts.
Cataracts develop due to the following:
- Age – Cataracts form mainly in adults.
- Surgery – Cataracts may form after surgical procedures to treat other eye conditions, such as glaucoma or poor vision.
- Disease – If you are suffering with a disease, such as diabetes, you may develop cataracts.
- Injury – A direct injury to the eye may result in cataract formation.
- Defect – While uncommon, congenital cataracts may form before birth, requiring surgical removal.
- Radiation – Cataracts may also form as a side effect of radiation treatments.
If you have cloudy, blurry vision, visit your ophthalmologist immediately, since this is the most common sign of cataracts. However, there are a few other signs of this eye condition.
Many patients with cataracts suffer with haloed vision. This causes a halo to form around lights when viewing images. Doubled vision is also common in patients with cataracts. Lastly, you may experience a decrease in colors, making images appear faded or less vibrant.
The effects cataracts have on your eyes can make reading, watching television, and driving difficult, so treatment is imperative.
Treating Your Cataracts
If you are dealing with the above signs, your eye doctor will need to conduct a series of tests to determine if you have cataracts. A traditional eye exam, dilation of the eye, and a detailed look at your lens and optic nerve will occur. To measure the pressure in the eye, a tonometer will be used. Higher levels of pressure suggest signs of glaucoma or cataracts.
Vision correction with eyeglasses may be sufficient to decrease the blurred vision, but if your cataracts are interfering with daily tasks, a more involved treatment will be necessary.
Removing the cataracts through surgery is effective in an estimated 98 percent of cases. Fortunately, you and your doctor can choose from a few surgical procedures to remove your cataracts. Here are two common options:
- Extracapsular – Extracapsular surgery begins with your doctor making a larger incision in the cornea before removing the cloudy section of your lens. Then, an artificial lens is implanted. While this procedure is invasive, it is an effective option for removing cataracts and improving your vision.
- Phacoemulsification – Also known as Phaco, this procedure uses ultrasound technology to emulsify the cataract before removal. Phaco requires a smaller incision in the cornea compared to other cataract surgeries, which makes it a popular option for patients.
With the various surgical procedures available, finding one suited to your needs and comfort level is possible. Discuss each option with your eye doctor before making a decision.
Developing cataracts in your eyes is not a death sentence, but it can alter your lifestyle. Using this guide, you will understand this eye condition and learn the best options for treatment.