The eye functions just like a camera – it has a natural lens inside the eye to help focus light clearly onto the retina (like the film of a camera). A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens in the eye; so when something is disrupting the lens, it is hard to get a clear picture.
The cataract is a result of a buildup of proteins in the natural lens. Just as a smudge on the lens of your camera prevents light from focusing clearly and producing a clear image, a cataract does the same.
Everyone will develop a cataract some point in their lives. Certain risk factors can accelerate the progression of a cataract such as smoking, diabetes, and steroids.
Although there is no known way to prevent cataracts, there are ways to slow the process of cataract development. These include:
- Not smoking
- Wearing a hat or sunglasses when you are in the sun
- Avoiding sunlamps and tanning booths
- Eating healthy foods
- Keeping diabetes under control
Early cataracts may be treated with a simple change in your eyeglass prescription, however as the cataracts progress a new eyeglass prescription may no longer be effective in minimizing the effects of the cataracts on your vision.
For visually significant cataracts that are no longer correctable with eyeglasses, the mainstay of treatment is Cataract Surgery.
No-Stitch, Small Incision Cataract Surgery
This is, by far, the most common method for cataract surgery. During the procedure, your Ophthalmologist will remove the natural lens in your eye that has become cloudy (cataract) by way of small incisions and ultrasound. Your surgeon will then implant an artificial lens (IOL, or intraocular lens) to focus light onto the retina just like the previously removed natural lens did.
Over the last five years, cataract surgery has achieved remarkable new standards. Ophthalmologists are not only able to correct the cataract, but now are also able to correct one’s vision (such as Astigmatism, or Glasses). Lens options discussed prior to surgery will allow the patient to determine what he or she would like to achieve. The main purpose of these lenses is to achieve spectacle independence and provide a great range of vision without the need for glasses. These advanced technology lenses are able to offer patients convenience, comfort, and safety.
With the surgery, most patients will undergo a healing process. With the administration of eye drops, most patients will see better each day after surgery with clear, unobstructed vision appearing by day 7-14. Depending on your lens selection, you may not even require prescription eyeglasses! After the surgery, most patients are able to resume his or her normal activities within days.