In the normal eye, there are two structures that are mainly responsible for refracting, or bending light so that it focuses properly on the retina. The first structure is the outermost layer called the cornea. The second is the crystalline lens, which is located behind the colored part of the eye, or the iris. Both the cornea and the lens must be perfectly clear if your vision is to be clear. While the cornea maintains its clarity throughout life, the lens may undergo a number of changes as you age.
As you age, the normally crystal clear lens loses flexibility and transparency, gradually becoming yellow and cloudy. This loss in optical clarity may begin to impair your ability to see well in low light, like in movie theaters, concerts and night driving. The cloudiness may also create glare, light sensitivity or an overall decrease in your vision. If parts of the lens become too cloudy, they may cause a significant decrease in both day and night vision. The cloudy, yellowed lens is called cataract.
Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up your eye’s lens. Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can increase your risk of cataracts. Cataracts can also be caused by other eye conditions, past eye surgery or medical conditions such as diabetes. Long-term use of steroid medications, too, can cause cataracts to develop. The majority of cataracts are caused my normal aging.
Cataracts normally develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision. At first, stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with cataracts. But if impaired vision interferes with your usual activities, you might need cataract surgery. Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Increasing difficulty with vision at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Double vision in a single eye
There is no cure for cataracts other that surgical removal. Fortunately, cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure. Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and usually only requires a few hours from beginning to end. To learn about your cataract surgery options, including the elective use of a Femtosecond Laser and premium lens options, follow this link or call our Surgical Coordinator to set up a consultation.