A cataract is a medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque resulting in blurred vision. Cataracts typically occur more frequently in the aging population, however other factors such as family history, diabetes, long term UV exposure, previous eye injuries, or certain medications, like steroids, can contribute to the development of cataracts.
Cataract symptoms may include:
- Blurred or dim vision
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Double vision in one eye
- Increased difficulty with vision at night
- Fading or yellowing of colors
Some people experience an improvement in their near vision during the beginning stages of a cataract. Unfortunately, this effect goes away as the disease progresses. In its early stages, the decrease in vision caused by cataract maybe managed by changing the prescription of one’s glasses or contacts. Cataract surgery may be considered once the cataract begins to interfere with daily tasks such as reading and driving.
Cataract surgery is very common and highly successful in improving the vision of patients suffering from cataracts. The procedure is generally safe and complications are rare and typically treatable. Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete. During surgery, the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Pre-operative measurements of the eye help the doctor determine the appropriate focusing power of the IOL. Modern IOL designs vary by function and material. Some IOLs are designed to decrease your dependency on glasses after cataract surgery. Your doctor can help you decide which type of lens is most appropriate for your individual needs. After the procedure, your doctor will apply a protective shield over the eye and prescribe eye drops for you to use as directed to promote proper healing.
Patients return home following the procedure and are encouraged to rest and avoid strenuous activities such as heavy lifting. Much of the recovery usually occurs in a matter of days, most often with only minor discomfort. Patients are often driving again within a few days and can typically resume regular activities after one week, although more complete healing usually takes about one month. Several follow-up appointments are required to ensure the eye is healing properly and that optimal results are achieved.