Cataracts are extremely common among middle aged and older men and women, affecting around 1 in 6 people aged 40 and over, and around half of people aged 60 or older. Early cataracts may be managed through new anti-glare glasses with a different prescription and using brighter lights, but eventually you may need surgery.
The only real treatment for cataracts as they progress and begin to interfere significantly with your vision is to remove the eye’s natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens through cataract surgery. Here at California Retina Associates, we perform cataract surgery in San Diego using premium intraocular lenses for the best results. If you are showing signs of cataracts, please call us at 619-425-7755 or 760-352-7755 to schedule an examination with a member of our cataract surgery team.
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the natural protein in the lens of your eye begins to clump together, clouding the lens. Cataracts are often small at first, and do not interfere too badly with vision. However, over time, they may become big enough that surgery is necessary to replace the clouded lens with a clear artificial one in order to restore your vision.
Symptoms of cataracts can include:
- Vision becoming blurry
- Loss of vibrant color vision
- Poor night vision
If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, contact California Retina Associates to make an appointment for an eye exam. We can determine if you have cataracts and come up with a treatment plan for you.
Risk Factors for Cataracts
Age is the main risk factor for developing cataracts. Infants and children can be affected by congenital cataracts, which are present from birth; however, the vast majority of people suffering from cataracts are over the age of 60.
Other risk factors for developing cataracts can include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Poor nutrition
- Previous eye trauma or eye surgery
If you are at risk for cataracts and start to notice changes in your vision, see us as soon as possible for an eye exam. Many of the risk factors for cataracts are the same as for other types of eye disease, such as macular degeneration, so regular eye exams are highly important in order to monitor your eye health and catch problems early.
What is Cataract Surgery?
The clouding of the lens that is a cataract cannot be reversed. Once the lens in a person’s eye becomes clouded, the only way to treat the situation is through cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is a common procedure where the cataract-clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens. There are various options for patients when choosing the type of IOL they want to have placed on their eye. This surgery takes just minutes and is one of the most successful surgical procedures across the world, with success rates of 98 percent.
What Can I Expect After My Cataract Surgery?
After your surgery, you’ll have an eye patch on your treated eye. We’ll also provide a protective shield to wear when sleeping for several days. At first your vision will be blurry, but it rapidly improves in just a couple days. Your eye may be somewhat itchy, but you must not rub or put any pressure on the treated eye. Heavy lifting, or anything that puts pressure on your eyes, must be avoided. You don’t want to increase blood pressure in your facial area. We’ll provide eye drops to prevent inflammation and infection and to control your eye pressure.
Full healing can take up to two months, but you can return to most daily activities in just a few days. Depending on your lens choice, you may or may not require glasses for some tasks after your surgery. If both your eyes have cataracts, we schedule the second eye for surgery one to two months after the first; they are not done at the same time.
How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take?
Cataract surgery only takes around 10 minutes. Afterwards, you’ll rest in our recovery area for 30 minutes or so.
How Long After My Cataract Surgery Will My Vision Be Blurry?
Patients can become alarmed if their vision seems blurry after they remove the eye patch. This is completely normal; it takes a little time for your body’s visual system to adjust to the removal of the cataract and to adapt to the new intraocular lens put in its place. Some patients even can have wavy vision for about one hour after they remove the patch.
Most patients have some amount of blurry vision. For many this clears within several hours. For others, it can take up to a week or two to fully clear, although it begins clearing before that.
How Will I Know if I Need Cataract Surgery?
Your eye doctor will see your cataract or cataracts on your lenses long before you notice any changes in your vision. However, the mere presence of a cataract doesn’t require surgery. In many people, their cataracts aren’t blurring their vision, interfering with driving, or affecting their lives.
But cataracts usually continue to make the lens more and more cloudy. In most cases, at some point the patient will have blurred vision that feels as if he or she is looking through a dirty window. Driving at night can become a glare-filled nightmare. Seeing the cards in a bridge game can be a challenge.
At this point, it’s time to have cataract surgery with the expert team at California Retina Associates. This surgery is so successful and creates such crystal clear vision that there really isn’t any reason to delay. Plus, modern intraocular lenses can actually improve your basic vision at the same time as they are replacing your clouded natural lens.
Do Cataracts Return?
Once the clouded lens with the cataract is removed, the artificial lens that replaces the natural lens cannot develop a cataract. If you’ve only had one cataract addressed, the other eye can still develop a cataract and need surgery, but cataracts do not “return.”
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