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What Are the Symptoms of a Cataract?
- A gradual deterioration in vision
- Objects may appear yellow, hazy, blurred or distorted
- Vision at night or in low-light conditions may be dramatically reduced
- Vision in bright light or in the sunshine may be difficult due to glare
- Halos may appear around bright lights at night
What is a Cataract?
Cataracts are not a disease, but a condition affecting the eye. The word cataract refers to tiny opacities in the natural lens which block light from passing through it. They usually start as areas of slight cloudiness that progressively grow more opaque and larger. They are usually white, but may take on color such as yellow or brown.
The lens is made primarily of water and proteins. The opacities are tiny clumps of protein molecules sticking together and marring the lens’ transparency.
As they become increasingly opaque and dense, the retina receives less and less light. The light it does receive brings increasingly blurred and distorted images. This causes increasing impairment of vision and eventually blindness.
Cataracts Cannot be Removed From the Lens
The entire lens must be removed. Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed, usually with excellent results. Generally, it is done on an out-patient basis, unless admission to a hospital is medically necessary. Most cataract patients are up and about on the day after surgery.
Cataract surgery is a pain-free experience thanks to advances in anesthesia. Patients are awake during the surgery and are able to resume normal activities shortly afterwards.
How the Surgery is Done
The surgery is a simple, out-patient procedure. The cataract will be removed with an advanced technique called phaco-emulsification, or small-incision cataract surgery. After applying a local anesthetic, a tiny incision of about 1/8" is made in the front part of the eye.
The cataract is then broken into microscopic particles using ultrasound and gently suctioned from the eye. An intra-ocular lens (IOL) is implanted into the area vacated by the natural lens. The same small incision is used, and it will heal up by itself, with no stitches being necessary.
The stay at an ambulatory surgery center (or “ASC”) is just a few hours and recovery time is short. Most people enjoy improved vision with minimal dependence upon corrective eyewear as a result of modern cataract surgery.
According to a survey conducted by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, more than 98% of cataract patients had their vision successfully improved after surgery. Many patients experience vision that is actually better than before they developed cataracts.
Once the lens is removed, cataracts sometimes recur as a clouding of the thin tissue called the capsule or pocket that previously held the natural lens and now holds the intraocular lens (IOL). If this occurs, a laser is used to painlessly open the clouded capsule and restore clear vision.
Find a reliable cataract surgeon like Dr. Howerton of Austin, Texas.