What Causes a Cataract?
Cataracts are quite common in the elderly, and are normally attributed to the aging process. In fact, about 70 percent of people will develop cataracts by age 75. While age is the most common cause of cataracts, there are other risk factors as well including:
- Family history
- Eye injury or physical trauma
- Diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure
- Smoking and alcohol use
- Long-term exposure to sunlight or radiation
- Previous eye surgery
- Long-term use of corticosteroids or certain other medications
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts are typically painless and slow to develop. Usually, a small hazy spot will develop in a part of the eye lens, causing little to no vision impairment. Over time, the cataract may continue to develop, causing increasingly blurred or foggy vision. Clouded vision can make it hard to read, drive a car—especially at night—or see the facial expressions of friends and family.
Cataracts can also cause:
- A yellowing or brownish tint to the lens of the eye, causing a brownish tint to vision. Advanced lens discoloration may not affect the sharpness of vision, but can affect your ability to see certain colors.
- Sensitivity of light and glare. Headlights, lamps or sunlight may appear unusually bright. A halo may also appear around lights.
- Increased difficulty seeing at night.
- The need for brighter light for reading and other activities.
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye.
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
If you think you may have cataracts, it is important to see an eye doctor as soon as possible for a comprehensive exam. Your eye care provider will be able to detect early signs of cataracts by looking at the lenses of your eyes.
We recommend that you begin getting routine eye exams starting at age 40—earlier if you have symptoms or risks for eye disease. Starting at age 65, you should have your eyes checked yearly.
Cataracts can range from a minor annoyance to something that severely affects your everyday life. A cataract cannot be treated through eye drops or medication. While changing your eyeglass prescription may help in the short term, the only long term solution is a surgical procedure to remove the cataract.
EYE-Q offers a safe, quick, and painless outpatient cataract procedure that can be performed in just 15 to 30 minutes. General anesthesia is not required. Instead, one of our doctors or nurses will apply numbing eye drops to the affected eye(s).
During the procedure, you probably won’t be able to see what is happening, but you will be fully alert and able to communicate with the doctors and nurses. During the surgery, your eye’s cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens implant called an intraocular lens, or IOL. This artificial lens requires no care and becomes a permanent part of the eye.
Cataract Surgery Recovery
Thanks to recent advancements in technology and surgical techniques, cataract surgery has become one of the safest and most gentle medical procedures performed today. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and takes only a few minutes. You’ll be sent home shortly after your procedure (be sure to have someone at our offices to drive you) with a prescription for anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops. Use of these drops is necessary for about two weeks after your procedure, but can vary on a case-by-case basis.
Your eyes will be mostly recovered in a week, and you should be experiencing enhanced vision in about a month. Regular check-ups in our offices will be scheduled for the first few weeks after surgery to monitor your progress.