What Are Cataracts?
Like a camera, your eyes have lenses. A cataract occurs when protein clumps in the eye’s lens and makes it cloudy, decreasing your ability to read or see. Cataracts are a condition that worsens over time, not a growth or film on the eye. Glasses can’t correct them.
Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people older than 40, and are the main cause of blindness. Types include congenital cataracts (those you are born with or develop as a child); and nuclear, cortical and posterior subcapsular contacts, which affect the center, edges and back of the lens, respectively.
How can you tell if you have cataracts?
A careful exam by a Horizon Eye Care specialist can determine signs or causes of cataracts.
Signs of cataracts
Prominent signs include clouded, blurred or dim vision. Double vision in a single eye is another indicator. Common symptoms of cataracts:
- Increasing difficulty seeing at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Frequent changes in your eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
Causes of cataracts
Cataracts have many causes, but most often they’re a result of aging and increasing cloudiness of the eye’s lens. Additional causes of cataracts include:
- Injury or trauma to the eye
- Side effects from medications
- Past eye surgery
- Inherited genetic disorders or other health problems
Several different surgical treatments – some that have been developed in the past few years – allow for better vision and faster recovery. From the standard intraocular lens developed in the 1980s to newer IOLs and the technologically advanced LenSx laser-assisted surgery, you have many choices for treating your cataracts. A Horizon Eye Care professional can help determine which procedure is best for you.
Cataract surgery, performed to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear intraocular lens implant, is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the U.S. every year. Preparing for and recovering from surgery has also become easier.
You choose the date and facility where you want to have the surgery, making sure you have a driver to bring you. Surgery is performed using relaxing agents for comfort; you can then go home after about three hours at the facility. Your driver must bring you back to the office within the first 24 hours for a post-operative visit. Initially, you can watch TV and move around your home freely with minimal restrictions. You must take drops three to four times a day. Usually, you’ll be able to return to your normal activities in a short period.
The standard intraocular lens implant allows you to see with normal glasses after cataract surgery. Newer implant options correct astigmatism and near vision for reading, enabling more patients to be glasses-free after surgery than ever before.
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One of these, the toric implant, is a premium lens that corrects astigmatism. Astigmatism is a common condition caused by the corneal surface being shaped like a football instead of round. About 35 percent of patients have significant astigmatism, requiring glasses to correct it. If you have astigmatism and a standard lens implant is used during surgery, you’ll need glasses to correct the astigmatism after surgery. If a toric implant is used, most patients achieve good distance vision with minimal need for glasses.
Another, the multifocal implant, is a premium lens that corrects distance and near vision. This lens reduces the need for glasses to perform many activities. Some specific activities may require glasses even with the multifocal implant.
A multifocal implant such as the AcrySof IQ ReSTOR intraocular lens – inserted during surgery to replace your eye’s natural lens – can give you clear vision from near to far and everywhere in between. It corrects both cataracts and the condition known as presbyopia, which causes many people to need reading glasses as their eyes age. In a clinical trial, after having the AcrySof IQ ReSTOR IOL implanted in both eyes, 78 percent of patients reported not needing glasses at six months post-op.
Horizon Eye Care also offers AcrySof IQ Toric IOL, which treats pre-existing astigmatism at the same time it corrects cataracts so you don’t have to undergo two separate procedures.
Of all cataract treatments, the laser-aided LenSx surgery is the most technologically advanced. Horizon Eye Care is excited to be one of the first vision centers to be certified to use this technology in the Charlotte area, available at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center's state-of-the-art outpatient eye surgery center.
With LenSx, a bladeless, high-precision, computer-controlled femtosecond laser allows the surgeon to plan and perform your surgery to exacting, individualized specifications not attainable with other methods. Because a femtosecond laser is cool, it disrupts and cuts corneal tissue – as opposed to a hot laser, which burns tissue.
Although more long-term studies are necessary, early results suggest that the precision, accuracy and safety of the LenSx may be greater than traditional surgery. If it’s used in conjunction with an upgraded lens implant, you may also experience a greatly reduced need for glasses and contact lenses.
LenSx requires an out-of-pocket fee. You will receive specific information on the cost of the procedure during consultation. Financing options through Care Credit are available. Your surgeon will decide on the best technology for your surgery based on your specific condition.
Cataracts can only be repaired through surgery. In rare cases, adults and children with cataracts may benefit temporarily from eye drops that dilate the pupils and increase the amount of light the eye receives.
Make an appointment
Horizon Eye Care has been a leader in cataract and refractive surgery in the Charlotte area since 1998. Schedule an exam to determine your best treatment. Online, use our Request An Appointment form or Horizon Eye Care’s Patient Portal. Or call 704-365-0555 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
|Joseph M. Biber, MD||Lewis R. Gaskin, MD|
|Joseph H. Krug, Jr., MD||Mark L. Malton, MD|
|Vandana R. Minnal, MD||Ravi H. Patel, MD|
|Gerald B. Rosen, MD||Royce R. Syracuse, MD, MBA|