Cataracts occur as part of the normal aging process. Studies show that about 50% of all people will have some cataract formation before age 60 and close to 100% will develop them by age 70. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the world. However, not all cataracts require surgery. They can severely impair your vision, but luckily, it’s also the most curable form of vision loss. Today, modern surgical techniques, intraocular lens implantation and outpatient surgery make cataract surgery safe, fast and effective.
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens in your eye that blocks the passage of light needed for vision and can cause cloudy or hazy vision. Currently, there is nothing you can do to prevent the formation of cataracts.
How do you know if you have a cataract? Some people notice a gradual dimming of vision or distortion or “ghost” images. They may also become increasingly sensitive to bright lights or glare and have trouble driving at night.
Treatment is indicated when decreased vision affects your everyday activities or hobbies. There are several techniques to remove the clouded lens. The most widely used technique is phacoemulsification. A very small incision is made and a tiny ultrasonic probe is used to break up the cataract and gently suction it away. A clear membrane, called the lens capsule bag, is left in your eye where an intraocular lens is placed (IOL). This lens is necessary to replace the powerful lens that turned cloudy and has been removed. The IOL has almost eliminated the need for thick cataract glasses and contact lenses that were used years ago.
The benefits to this small incision surgery are the short period of time the procedure takes and the quick recovery time. Patients are able to eat a light snack and drink immediately after the surgery. The results of the surgery are almost immediate. Most people notice an improvement in their vision soon after surgery. You may still need glasses after the surgery for some activities such as driving or reading, but your vision should be much clearer. Your new glasses prescription will be given several weeks after the procedure.
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