A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the lens of the eye. Cataracts usually develop as a person gets older and may run in families. Other environmental factors such as smoking or exposure to toxic substances can also accelerate the development of a cataract. Cataracts can cause visual problems such as difficulty seeing at night, seeing halos around lights, and sensitivity to glare.
Symptoms and Detection:
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
Cloudy or blurry vision.
Colors seem faded.
Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
Poor night vision.
Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.
How is a cataract detected?
Cataract is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes:
Visual acuity test: This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
Dilated eye exam: Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
Tonometry: An instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test.
Your eye care professional also may do other tests to learn more about the structure and health of your eye.
How is a cataract treated?
-The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
What are the different types of cataract surgery?
-There are two types of cataract surgery. Your doctor can explain the differences and help determine which is better for you:
-Phacoemulsification, or phaco. A small incision is made on the side of the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Your doctor inserts a tiny probe into the eye. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens so that it can be removed by suction. Most cataract surgery today is done by phacoemulsification, also called “small incision cataract surgery.”
Extracapsular surgery. Your doctor makes a longer incision on the side of the cornea and removes the cloudy core of the lens in one piece. The rest of the lens is removed by suction.