A Cataract is an extremely common condition. So much so that, statistically, by the time a person reaches the age of 80, he/she is more likely to have had cataracts at some point in life than not.
When our eyes look at an object, light travels through the pupil and is focused through the lens onto the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye, called the retina. “A cataract is a clouding of the eye's normally clear lens. Just like if you breathed on the lens of a camera, fogging it up, the cataract clouds the lens of your eye, making it harder for the lens to properly receive and focus incoming light. When this happens, our ability to see can be drastically reduced,” explains Dr. Vincent Penza of City Optometry in San Francisco, California.
People often develop cataracts as they age. The lens is made up mostly of water and protein. As a person ages, the lens grows more layers on its surface. As these layers harden, protein in the lens can form clumps and become cloudy in areas. This is how a cataract forms. Although cataracts are generally linked to old age, previous eye disease or eye surgery, chronic disease, diabetes, and eye injuries are all strongly linked to cataracts and may cause you to develop a cataract well before reaching old age.
Cataracts present several symptoms. These range from painless, blurry vision, or faded or yellowed colors, to double vision within a single eye. Dr. Penza adds,“Another symptom, increased difficulty seeing at night or in dim lighting, is often overlooked because a person may reason that it is natural to have difficulty seeing in the dark.” If you experience symptoms, you should consult your eye care professional for an appointment, and be sure to have regular check-ups after diagnosis.
The only way to remove a cataract is through surgery. In some cases, clouding is minimal and vision is hardly effected. In this case, a slight change in eyeglasses prescription may be enough for the time being and a person can continue relatively unaffected without needing surgery. However, if clouding effects the whole or a large part of the lens, surgery is required to remove it. In cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens. The surgery is normally done as an outpatient procedure and does not require an overnight stay.
Dr. David Penza advises, “Never underestimate the importance of pre- and post-op care. Your optometrist and eye surgeon should be in constant communication as to your treatment before and after surgery, to be sure that you receive the best care.”
For further information, contact your eye doctor today.