Cataracts: Signs, Symptoms and Surgery

cataract surgery exam

Cataracts are the Most Common Cause of Reversible Blindness in the World

Are you in need of cataract surgery? Do you know what a cataract is and what causes them?

Cataracts are a clouding of the lenses in your eyes, or a progressive loss of clarity in the area of your eyes that focuses what we see (called the lens). Cataracts affect vision and are very common in older people. More than 22 million Americans have cataracts which is the leading cause of blindness in the world, accounting for an estimated 22.5 million blind people. By age 80, more than half of all people in the United States either will have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

To someone with cataracts, the world appears cloudy, almost as if they’re looking through a foggy window. As the lens loses its clearness, a person will have difficulty doing things that require sharper vision, such as driving a car or reading a book. This gradual loss of sight contributes to the difficulty for caregivers to control falls, hip fractures and car accidents in older parents or patients.

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts

Cataracts usually form over long periods of time and cause few early symptoms until they noticeably block light. For this reason, it is important to get annual comprehensive eye exams to detect the formation of cataracts before the symptoms are noticeable.

When the symptoms are present, they can include:

  • Cloudy, foggy or blurry vision.
  • Colors seem faded.
  • Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
  • Progressive nearsightedness in older people often called “second sight” because they may no longer need reading glasses.
  • 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.

Prevention and Treatment of Cataracts

Caregiver to Caregiver

Cataract surgery is a common topic of concern for caregivers on AgingCare.com caregiver forum. We compiled some Q & As that might help you deal with cataract surgery questions and concerns with your aging parents and relatives.

Q: “How can I convince my mom to get cataract surgery?”

“Try having others that have had cataract surgery speak to her about it. There are a number of forums you can participate in with her including agingcare.com and aarp.org. “

“The surgery is easy and not painful but there can be conseqences if the eyes are already fragile. Getting the most information is the best way to go.”

Q: “Has anyone had an older relative have cataract surgery?”

“My father-in-law had it done at 98 and it was the best thing. The procedure was so simple.”

“Since they dont use a general anesthetic for cataract surgery, they should be okay if they’re healthy. There are always some risks, but there are risks not having cataracts removed too.”

Q: “Should I make my mom have cataract surgery?”

“Your first question should be whether she could tolerate the procedure, then how bad is her vision now, and how much better could it be if she gets it.”

Currently, there is no prescription or medical treatment your ophthalmologist can prescribe to prevent or slow the development of cataracts. However early detection is still important in order to explore certain lifestyle changes, like avoiding UV light exposure and smoking, that can lessen the impact of particular risk factors.

The symptoms of early cataracts may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, cataract surgery is the only effective treatment. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. You and your eye care professional can make this decision together. Once you understand the benefits and risks of surgery, you can make an informed decision about whether cataract surgery is right for you. In most cases, delaying cataract surgery will not cause long-term damage to your eye or make the surgery more difficult so you do not have to rush into surgery.

Cataract Surgery

The eye doctors at Corrective Eye Center (f.k.a Cataract Eye Center), Dr. Salamon and Dr. Louis, use state of the art technology for no-needle, no-stitch cataract surgery.

For most patients, only an eye drop anesthetic is needed, so recovery is faster. Cataract removal through a small incision requires an ultrasound technique known as phacoemulsification. This method uses only sound waves and fluid to break the cataract into small particles. They are easily washed from the eye. The very small incision heals very quickly, almost always without stitches.

After the natural lens has been removed, it often is replaced by an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). An IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye. Light is focused clearly by the IOL onto the retina, improving your vision. You will not feel or see the new lens.

Some people cannot have an IOL. They may have another eye disease or have problems during surgery. For these patients, a soft contact lens, or glasses that provide high magnification, may be suggested.

When to Have Cataract Surgery

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately three million cataract operations are performed by eye doctors in the United States each year. Cataract surgery is an outpatient operation that Corrective Eye Center performs in our surgery center, Cleveland Surgical Suites, a state-of-the-art outpatient surgical facility providing a full range of Ophthalmology (Eye) procedures.

There is no particularly critical point in time when a cataract must be removed. The appropriate point at which to eliminate a cataract is determined by our eye doctors and is based on your needs. Many of our patients who need cataract surgery also have other eye conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. All these factors must be taken into consideration to determine what the best time is for our patients to undergo cataract surgery and the recovery.

Cataract Surgery Expectation

Itching and mild discomfort are normal after cataract surgery. Some fluid discharge is also common. Your eye may be sensitive to light and touch. If you have discomfort, your doctor can suggest treatment. After one or two days, moderate discomfort should disappear.

For a few days after surgery, your doctor may ask you to use eyedrops to help healing and decrease the risk of infection. Ask your doctor about how to use your eyedrops, how often to use them, and what effects they can have. You will need to wear an eye shield or eyeglasses to help protect your eye. Avoid rubbing or pressing on your eye. Using the no-needle, no-stitch technique of cataract surgery also reduces recovery time with most patients resuming full activities the next day after surgery, including driving, bending, lifting, golfing, bowling, etc. Our Corrective Eye Center eye doctors (ophthalmologists), either Dr. SalamonDr. Louis or Dr. Shafran, will schedule exams to check on your progress.

For more information about cataracts and cataract surgery contact Corrective Eye Center by calling 216-574-8900 or fill out our web inquiry and we’ll have an eye specialist contact you.