A cataract is characterized as a clouding area on the eye lens. This eye condition is extremely challenging to live with, as it hinders sight and leads to complete vision loss if left untreated.
Cataracts don’t induce sudden blinding; they develop gradually over the span of a few years. These obstructions are caused by protein build-up on the outer eye lens, which inhibits light from reaching the optic nerve. Over time, protein continues to accumulate on the lens and, eventually, blocks vision completely.
People with developing cataracts often experience blurry vision, yellow-tinted sight, sensitivity to light, and halos around lights.
Millions of people suffer from cataracts. The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that more than 24.4 million Americans, ages 40 and older, suffer from cataracts, and they estimate “approximately half of all Americans have cataracts” by the age of 75.
Causes of Cataracts
Although some eye clouding is natural as we age, early onset cataracts may be present due to any of the following:
- Eye injury
- Medication use
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays
- Exposure to radiation
- Genetics and family history
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts
In the initial stages of cataract development, a person may experience clouding in a small area of the eye lens. This minor clouding may be relatively unnoticeable at first. As the cataract progresses, a person may experience distorted light and depth perception, and eventually a complete clouding of the eye.
If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, it’s crucial to visit an ophthalmologist to prevent further loss of vision:
- Blurry, cloudy, or foggy sight
- Yellow-tinted vision
- Double vision
- Halos around lights
- Sensitivity to light
- Poor vision at night
- Decreasing vision of lights
Who is at risk of developing cataracts?
Though some cataract risk factors are preventable, others occur naturally and are generally unavoidable.
There are a number of factors—habits, conditions, and genetic predispositions—that increase a person’s risk of developing cataracts.
People with the following conditions/habits are at a higher risk of cataract growth:
- People who have diabetes
- People who have high blood pressure
- People who are over the age of 40
- People who smoke
- People who are overweight
- People with genetic predisposition to cataracts
- People who drink in excess
Aim to mitigate as many risks as possible to prevent necessary treatment in the future.
To avoid complete obstruction of vision, commit to frequent eye examinations and assessments. Regularly-scheduled eye exams are imperative for early detection of cataracts.
Cataract Surgery & Treatment
If your ophthalmologist has diagnosed you with a cataract condition, there are a number of non-surgical and surgical treatment options available to you.
Non-Surgical Treatment of Cataracts
Cataracts that are mild in severity or detected early may be treated with a new prescription for glasses, anti-fog and anti-glare sunglasses, magnifying lenses, medical eye drops, or the utilization of stronger lighting.
Surgical Treatment of Cataracts
For progressed cases of cataracts, cataract eye surgery may be necessary to salvage remaining vision. Cataract eye surgery is minimally-invasive, and is the leading treatment for cataracts once they’ve developed to further stages.
Refractive cataract eye surgery can be completed in less than 30 minutes and only requires a local anesthetic. During cataract eye surgery, your ophthalmologist will implant an intraocular lens (artificial lens) that replaces your clouded, natural eye lens to restore your vision. (Specialized torin intraocular lenses can also be used to correct astigmatism conditions.)
Types of Cataract Surgery:
- Extracapsular Eye Surgery
- Phacoemulsification Eye Surgery
- Refractive Cataract Eye Surgery
Pre-Surgical Testing for Cataract Surgery
Before any surgery, it’s common for doctors to complete preoperative testing. These series of tests provide examinations and assessments for a doctor to assure medical clearance, which is in place to minimize any potential risks during surgery.
Although cataract eye surgery is relatively low-risk, your ophthalmologist may administer an EKG test, chest radiography, a serum measurement or blood test to determine the best route for treatment and anesthesia.
Technology & Safety of Cataract Surgery
As one of the most common procedures completed in the U.S. each year, cataract surgery is considered a safe procedure.
To make precise and accurate corneal incisions during cataract eye surgery, highly-advanced femtosecond lasers are used. At University of Central Florida Health, we have high standards for our technology. The tools and technologies we use for cataract surgery are state-of-the-art and sterilized to the highest level.
What to Expect After Cataract Surgery
After cataract surgery in Orlando, any minor soreness should subside within a few days, and you can expect a full recovery within 4 to 6 weeks.
Medical eye drops are typically prescribed after eye surgery to prevent eye infection, irritation, and inflammation.
As with any procedure, there are potential complications to eye cataract surgery. While complications and risks are unlikely, they are still possible. These complications include eye swelling, eye inflammation, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and eye infection.
Following cataract eye surgery, you will need to have a friend or family member pick you up from the surgery center. Driving after surgery is not recommended. Depending on your condition, you may not be able to drive for a few weeks after surgery.
While you’re healing, you will need to refrain from high-stress activities, like exercise and heavy lifting. We also advise that you don’t submerge your head in a pool or hot tub. Allowing your eye enough time to heal will aid your recovery and shorten your rest period as much as possible.
When you choose UCF Health for cataract surgery in Orlando, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. As one of the top ophthalmologists in Orlando, Dr. Mehul Patel is dedicated to providing his patients with modern treatments and cutting-edge technologies. Dr. Mehul Patel is known for serving his patients with exceptional bedside manner. He treats every patient as if they’re his only patient.
Whether you’re in need of an annual check-up, regular exam or preventative care, our physicians offer a wide range of (UCF) Health Services to provide you with the personalized care you deserve.
American Academy of Ophthalmology: https://www.aao.org/newsroom/eye-health-statistics
American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/cataract/cataract-surgery