What is a Cataract?
Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 45. A condition that commonly develops as the eye ages, by the time we reach 80, more than half of us will have developed a cataract. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye which is normally transparent. The lens, located inside the eye, behind the iris and the pupil, focuses light onto the retina at the back of your eye, where it is converted to nerve signals that are passed to the brain, allowing you to see. When your lens becomes cloudy, the images projected onto your retina become blurry and unfocused and therefore the signal to the brain is also unclear. You can compare this to looking through a dirty or cloudy window. If the window is not clear, you can’t see well. Usually cataracts develop slowly over time so your vision gradually worsens. While the majority of cataracts are a result of the aging process, there are also congenital cataracts that are present at birth, secondary cataracts that result from eye surgery or diseases such as glaucoma or diabetes and traumatic cataracts that result at any age from an injury to the eye. While you may be able to live with mild or moderate cataracts, severe cataracts are treated with surgery.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Cataracts?
Cataracts don’t suddenly develop overnight. They generally start off small and only begin to noticeably affect your vision as they grow. The first symptom is usually that your vision becomes blurred, hazy or cloudy. Additionally, you may become sensitive to light, making sunlight, oncoming headlights or indoor lighting appear exceptionally glaring or bright. Colors may seem dim and you may notice halos around lights or double vision.
The symptoms people experience from cataracts may vary. Some individuals even report a temporary improvement in near vision when a cataract first develops, a phenomenon known as “second sight”.
Here is a list of possible signs and symptoms of developing cataracts:
If you experience any changes in your vision, call us.
What is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is the removal of the natural lens of the eye (also called “crystalline lens”) that has developed an opacification, which is referred to as a cataract. Metabolic changes of the crystalline lens fibers over the time lead to the development of the cataract and loss of transparency, causing impairment or loss of vision.
During cataract surgery, a patient’s cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic lens to restore the lens’s transparency. Following surgical removal of the natural lens, an artificial intraocular lens implant is inserted. Cataract surgery is generally performed by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in an ambulatory (rather than inpatient) setting, in a surgical center or hospital, using local anesthesia (either topical, peribulbar, or retrobulbar), usually causing little or no discomfort to the patient. Well over 90% of operations are successful in restoring useful vision, with a low complication rate. Day care, high volume, minimally invasive, small incision phacoemulsification with quick post-op recovery has become the standard of care in cataract surgery all over the world.
Do I have cataracts?
To evaluate if cataracts are something that is affecting your vision, set up an appointment for your eye exam today! Please call us at 206-242-8545.
Posterior Capsulotomy (Laser after Cataract Surgery)
Posterior capsulotomy is a laser surgical procedure which is sometimes necessary to clear vision after cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens inside the eye is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens implant. The cataract is surrounded by a clear cellophane-like wrapping. During cataract surgery, the front cellophane wrapping is removed. Then the cataract is removed and the implant placed. The back cellophane wrapping (known as the posterior capsule) remains intact. In some people, months or even years after cataract surgery, this clear cellophane membrane becomes cloudy, and this is known as Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO). Subsequently, laser treatment is done to restore vision.
An example of PCO after cataract surgery
Symptoms of PCO
Treatment involves a brief two minute procedure in which a laser is used to create an opening in the clouded membrane. A laser is a focused beam of light. The procedure is completely painless and is completed with numbing eye drops. There are no eye drops to use after the procedure and most patients resume all normal activity immediately. Most patients notice an improvement in vision within the first day or two. After assessment of this condition we will refer you to a surgeon who will be able to perform this procedure.