Cataracts Are Treatable Via a Safe Surgical Procedure
When your eyes’ lens becomes cloudy or discolored, this is called a cataract. Cataracts are common, typically related to aging, and are treatable. In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most popular performed in the United States, with millions receiving the surgery every year.
Their prevalence increases as we age, becoming increasingly common in people age 40 and up. Despite the risk increasing with age, anyone can develop cataracts.
The only treatment currently available for cataracts is cataract removal surgery, though there are eye drops (and other non-surgical treatments) currently undergoing testing. Cataract removal surgery is a safe procedure with a success rate north of 98%.
It is still a fairly commonly-held belief that vision loss via cataracts is an inevitable part of aging. As with anything, education and having realistic expectations are important in ensuring long-term success.
Risk factors include:
- Previous eye injuries
- Family history
- Long-term use of corticosteroid medications
- Diabetes (and other medical conditions)
- UVA rays (from sunlight)
Symptoms of developing cataracts include:
- Blurry, hazy, or cloudy vision
- Difficulty differentiating colors, colors that seem faded (especially purples)
- Glare/halo from light sources, especially in low-light settings or at night
There are several types of cataracts, including:
- Subcapsular Cataract – Occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or using steroidal medications are at greater risk to develop these.
- Nuclear Cataract – Forms in the nucleus of the lens. In some cases, a nuclear cataract can cause “second sight”, where your visual acuity is temporarily increased. This effect wears off as the cataract develops.
- Cortical Cataract – Occurs in the lens cortex (the tissue surrounding the central nucleus). Opaque white flecks begin to form around the centre of the lens (similar to the spokes on a wheel).
If your cataracts are beginning to have an impact on your life, such as difficulty reading or differentiating colors, you may be a candidate for surgery.
We will assess the type and development of your cataracts, as well as the overall health of your eye and surrounding tissues. If you are a candidate we will refer you to an Ophthalmologist (who will perform the surgery).
The surgery itself is fairly straightforward. In most cases it’s also relatively painless, with some post-operative discomfort that clears in a couple of weeks.
The Ophthalmologist will remove your cloudy lens and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. The IOL mimics the function of the original lens and is quite effective. You do not see or feel the new lens- it performs the same functions as the original.
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