A cataract is a clouding on the lens of the eye that can affect vision. Cataract removal surgery should be considered when cataracts interfere with your vision so drastically, that every-day life activities become challenging. Aside from some symptoms that may develop, such as clouded, blurry or dim vision, sensitivity to light, or colors that appear faded or yellowed, undergoing a dilated eye exam is the only positive way to diagnose a cataract. A dilated eye exam must be performed by a qualified eye professional, such as the doctors at Virginia Eye Institute
A Quick Procedure
Once you’ve opted for surgical cataract treatment and correction
, your VEI ophthalmologist
will help you choose the intraocular lens (IOL) implant that is right for you. Through a brief outpatient procedure, your doctor will remove your cataract and replace it with a clear implant to restore your vision. Recovery is typically rapid, allowing you to resume normal activity within a week or less.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear, natural crystalline lens of the eye. The lens is composed of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a highly organized pattern that allows light to pass through it with minimal distortion. As a result, the lens appears virtually clear. The lens can become cloudy (see Causes of Cataracts), blocking or scattering some light and preventing it from reaching the retina in sharp focus. This causes blurred vision and glare.
Most cataracts progress slowly over a period of years, but their rate of progression is unpredictable. They can affect one eye or both eyes. As cataracts become more dense, they produce visual symptoms; these typically include blur, glare, halos around lights, and double vision. Colors can become dull, a brown-yellow tint is common, and driving can become dangerous. Untreated, cataracts can cause blindness. In the U.S., however, cataracts are usually treated when they begin to interfere with activities of daily living such as reading and driving.
What causes Cataracts?
• Age. Most Americans older than 60 years have cataracts.
• Medical conditions. Diabetes and other systemic diseases, glaucoma, and metabolic abnormalities can cause cataracts.
• Physical injuries. Commonly called traumatic cataracts. A blow to the eye, great heat or cold, chemical injury, exposure to radiation (usually associated with radiation therapy for cancer patients), and other injuries can lead to cataract formation.
• Ultraviolet radiation (UVA or UVB). Long-term exposure to sunlight is believed to speed the development of cataracts.
• Oral steroids and other medications. Oral steroids (such as prednisone), the gout medication allopurinol, the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, the heart medication amiodorone, and the long-term use of aspirin have also been associated with cataracts.
• Smoking. Studies indicate that smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts than nonsmokers and that quitting can reduce the risk for developing cataracts.