Cataract Education, Evaluation & Treatment
What is a Cataract?
An opacity of the crystalline lens is identified as a cataract. The crystalline lens is located right behind the pupil of the eye. Cataract can develop from most commonly aging but also from trauma, welding, UV exposure, certain medications and other medical conditions. As we age, proteins precipitate out of the lens matrix, resulting in increased cloudiness of the lens. With time, the crystalline lens will also begin to change color from clear to yellow/brown.
Most cataracts develop in people over age 55, but they occasionally occur in infants and young children or as a result of trauma or medications and if they are not diagnosed and treated it may lead to lazy eye. Usually, cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. The doctors at Boerne Vision Center can access your eyes and help create a plan to help with your condition.
Causes of Cataracts
Most cataracts are due to age-related changes in the lens of the eye that cause it to become cloudy or opaque. However, other factors can contribute to cataract development, including:
- Diabetes mellitus. People with diabetes are at higher risk for cataracts.
- Drugs. Certain medications are associated with cataract development. These include:
- Corticosteroids are known to cause cataracts, but the effects of other medications on the lens are unclear.
- Chlorpromazine and other phenothiazine related medications.
- Ultraviolet radiation. Studies show an increased chance of cataract formation with unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
- Eye injury can also lead to cataract formation, so be sure to let us know of any recent trauma or pre-existing conditions during your appointment.
- Smoking. There is possibly an association between smoking and increased lens cloudiness.
- Alcohol. Several studies show increased cataract formation in patients with higher alcohol consumption compared with people who have lower or no alcohol consumption.
- Nutritional deficiency. Although the results are inconclusive, studies suggest an association between cataract formation and low levels of antioxidants (for example, vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids). Further studies may show that antioxidants can help decrease cataract development.
- Family History. If a close relative has had cataracts, there is a higher chance of developing a cataract.
Rarely, cataracts are present at birth or develop shortly after. They may be inherited or develop due to an infection (such as rubella) in the mother during pregnancy. A cataract may also develop following an eye injury or surgery for another eye problem, such as glaucoma.
What are the symptoms of Cataracts?
The main symptom of cataract includes:
- Decreased/ blurry vision
- Dulled Vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Increased glare, particularly at night with oncoming traffic
- ”Halos” around lights
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Frequent change in glasses/ contact lens
How is Cataract diagnosed?
The Boerne Vision Center team will perform a comprehensive eye exam and ask you about your medical history. Once we understand how the symptoms are affecting you and the length of time this has been happening, we will run some tests to find the cause.
One of the tests we will perform is a slit lamp exam so we can take a close look at your eye with the help of light and microscopes. We may also take photos of the cataract.
How is Cataract treated? And what type of intraocular lens (or IOL) are available?
The goal of cataract surgery is to correct the decreased vision caused by the cataract. Surgery is the only effective way to remove a cataract. Typically surgery will be performed on one eye and then a few weeks later on the second eye. During surgery the eye surgeon (ophthalmologist) removes the cataract and puts in a new artificial lens called a intraocular lens (IOL). Most people will still need to wear glasses or contact lens after cataract surgery.
The doctors at Boerne Vision Center can help you decide what type of IOL will replace your cloudy lens. There are IOLs available to treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. IOL can provide either near or distance vision, these single focus lenses are called monovision IOL. Some newer IOLs can provide for near, intermediate, and distance; which are called multifocal or trifocal IOLs. Another option includes correcting one eye for near and one eye for distance, a choice called monovision. You can also review the options at the surgeon’s office to determine the best option for you.
As with any surgery, cataract surgery has risks from infection and bleeding. Cataract surgery also slightly increases the risk of retinal detachment. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of cataract surgery with your eye care providers. Other eye conditions may increase the need for cataract surgery or prevent a person from being a cataract surgery candidate.
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery performed in the United States today. Approximately 90% of cataract surgery patients report better vision following the surgery.
If surgery is not performed, patients with cataracts may be examined on an annual basis, or more frequently if there is a change in vision.
Does the Surgery Cause Dry Eyes?
Cataract surgery does not cause dry eyes. Two small incisions are made in the cornea that heal quickly without stitches and do not affect how the amount of tears produced. Even though the surgery does not cause dry eyes, any pre-existing dry eyes can affect the quality of the surgery.
The Boerne Vision Center team will perform a comprehensive eye exam and determine and treat dry eyes before surgery.
Is it possible to prevent Cataracts?
There is currently no way to prevent age-related cataracts. Those with diabetes may decrease the risk of developing cataracts with tight control of blood sugar. It is recommended to wear sun protection when outdoors such as brimmed hats, sunglasses with broad spectrum UV protection, or glasses with 100% UV protection.
Contact Boerne Vision Center today to schedule an appointment and learn more about cataracts and cataract surgery.