What Are Cataracts? A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye and is a very common eye problem as you get older. The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and contains water and proteins that help the eye focus, but those proteins can clump together inside the lens and cause vision problems. When a cataract forms, the lens becomes cloudy, often a yellowish-brown color. It blocks light from entering the eye and scatters light, causing blur, glare, and occasionally, double vision. Most patients won't notice a big difference in their eyesight in the early stages of cataract development. Corrective lenses may reverse any resulting vision problem for a time, but as the cataract progresses, corrective lenses may not help and surgery becomes the only treatment option.
Cataract surgery is a quick and safe procedure that most patients recover from in a day. Visiting the Metro-Detroit cataract specialists at Normandy Optical for regular checkups can help with early diagnosis. We provide Michigan patients with co-management and post-operative care to help patients restore their vision and keep it sharp.
Cataract Symptoms People with cataracts often experience one or more of these symptoms:
A gradual deterioration in vision
Objects may appear yellow, hazy, or distorted
Blurry vision or double vision
Halos that develop around bright lights
Difficulty reading in low light
Difficulty driving at night because of the glare of oncoming headlights
Colors seeming less bright or vibrant than they used to be
What Causes Cataracts? A cataract can develop due to several factors, including age. The odds of developing cataracts tend to increase with age, but age alone is not the reason. These factors all increase your risk of getting cataracts:
Excessive sun exposure / UV light
Eye injuries or surgery
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Are There Different Types of Cataracts? There are three types of cataracts based on where they appear in the lens and what causes them, but they all cause vision problems.
Nuclear cataracts are usually age-related and appear deep in the center of the lens, which is known as the nucleus.
Subcapsular cataracts occur at the back of the lens. They usually result from hypertension or occur as a side effect of steroid use.
Cortical cataracts appear in the cortex, which is the area around the center of the lens.
The only treatment for each type of cataract is cataract surgery, which is often done with a laser.
How to Prevent Cataracts Unfortunately, with our current medical knowledge, there is no definitive way to prevent the development of cataracts. Everyone is predisposed to develop cataracts as they age and there are no preventive measures that will guarantee cataract-free eyes.
There are additional causes of cataracts (such as eye injury, steroid use, or exposure to ultraviolet light) that you might be able to control. Wearing sunglasses that block UV rays might be the single best way you can protect your vision. Your diet is also important and plays a role in your eye health. Foods that are rich in vitamins A and C support eye health in general. Smoking and chronic alcoholism are also risk factors and should be avoided.
Cataract Treatment Cataract surgery is the most effective treatment and is one of the most common surgeries in the United States. The cataract surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial lens called intraocular lenses (IOLs).
The different types of IOLs include:
Monofocal lenses - designed to provide the best possible vision at one distance. Most people who choose monofocals have their IOLs set for distance vision and use reading glasses for near-vision tasks.
Multifocal IOLs - have multiple corrective zones built into the lens (much like bifocal or trifocal eyeglasses), which allows you to see both near and far objects.
Extended depth-of-focus (EDOF) IOLs - have only one corrective zone, but this zone is stretched to allow distance and intermediate vision.
Accommodative lenses - can correct vision at all distances but the lens uses the natural movements of your eye’s muscles to change focus.
Toric lenses - have extra built-in correction for astigmatism.
Cataract Surgery Recovery Cataract surgery is usually a quick and routine outpatient procedure. The eye surgeon removes the lens through a small incision in the eye and replaces it with the chosen IOL. Sometimes a laser is used for this procedure but not always. The surgical incision heals on its own. If you need surgery on both eyes, your surgeon may schedule the operations a few days apart.
Immediately After Cataract Surgery You will need a little time after cataract surgery to recover from sedation or anesthesia, so you will probably have to stay at the surgeon's office for 30 minutes to one hour. You'll have to wear a shield over the eye that was operated on. You won't be able to drive a car for some time after surgery, so you need someone who can drive you home.
How Long Does Recovery Take? You will need to use your protective eye shield while sleeping for a few days after your cataract surgery. Your cataract surgeon will give you specific advice for your situation. There is often a follow-up appointment with the surgeon the day after your operation. The immediate postoperative recovery might take less than a day. In this case, you may want to take a nap when you get home. You may be able to remove the protective eye shield a few hours after your operation.
Your vision may return to normal in a few hours but not always. You may have distorted vision or bloodshot eyes because of the new artificial lens. You may also experience dry eyes or scratchiness which tend to go away quickly. A full recovery may take 30 days.
Postoperative Cataract Care and Management Most people need minimal help after cataract surgery. Your surgeon will probably prescribe antibiotic eye drops. Use them exactly as prescribed. You might receive a prescription for pain medicine, but you might not need it. Most people have minimal pain after cataract surgery. If your blurry vision or dry eyes don't clear up in a few days, contact your surgeon. If you experience eye pain or discomfort in the days following surgery, report this to your surgeon as well.
Cataract Recovery Tips These are some tips to help make your recovery quick and more comfortable:
Don't drive the day after cataract surgery
Avoid sneezing or vomiting right after surgery
Don't do any heavy lifting or engage in strenuous activities for a few weeks after surgery
Don't rub your eyes
Do your best to avoid dust, smoke, or other irritants
Walk carefully so you don't bump into things that could injure your eyes
Make sure to avoid swimming pools and hot tubs for the first week after cataract surgery to reduce the risk of infection
Avoid bending over immediately after the procedure
Remember that regaining your vision may take time
Contact Our Metro-Detroit Cataract Specialists to Schedule an Appointment If you are experiencing any of the cataract symptoms listed above or hope to catch the condition early with routine examinations, schedule a consultation with the cataract specialists at Normandy Optical as soon as possible. We can provide a thorough evaluation and diagnosis. If you have already been diagnosed with cataracts, we can help you manage your condition and ensure you get the best post-op care. We have multiple locations around Michigan to conveniently serve you. Contact us today!