A cataract is a discoloration of the lens of the eye which causes the loss of its transparency causing visual disturbances. The chances of developing cataracts increases with age. Most people older than 65 can expect to have a cataract in at least one eye. Other contributors to cataract development include genetics, malnutrition, diabetes, infection or trauma to the eyes. Recognition of early symptoms of cataracts is essential for prevention of serious vision problems.
Experts have estimated that visual disability associated with cataracts accounts for over 8 million physician office visits a year in the United States. This number will likely continue to increase as the proportion of people over the age of 60 rises. When people develop cataracts, they begin to have difficulty doing activities they need to do for daily living or for enjoyment. Some of the most common complaints include difficulty driving at night, reading, participating in activities, or traveling to unfamiliar areas; all activities where clear vision is essential.
The lens is made mostly of water and protein. Specific proteins within the lens are responsible for maintaining its clarity. Over many years, the structures of these lens proteins are altered, ultimately leading to a gradual clouding of the lens. Over time, glasses and contacts may no longer work as well to help you see clearly. Contacting an ophthalmologist should always be the first step after noticing any vision changes or impairments. A thorough eye exam can determine the problem and what vision correction surgeries are recommended. Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed, safest and most successful surgeries in the United States that is covered by insurance.
Many people don’t even recognize the early signs of cataracts, they just know they do not see as good anymore. Some patients begin having early cataract symptoms as early as 40. However, cataracts may also develop in those much younger than 40. Most insurance plans pay for cataract surgery procedures using standard lenses, subject to deductibles and co-pays.
Intraocular lens or Smart Lens such as ReSTOR® or CrystaLens®, replace the old lens in an eye. Ultrasound energy is used to remove cataracts. An instrument called a phaco probe is used to remove the natural lens before being replaced with an artificial lens. These premium lenses can almost eliminate the need to wear glasses, both for reading and distance vision.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure and takes just minutes to perform. The advanced technology has grown leaps and bounds and is being performed more and more each year. Most people notice an immediate improvement in their vision following surgery. People resume normal activities the day after surgery. In fact with the new technologies, your dependence on glasses can be greatly reduced or nearly eliminated.
Signs of Cataracts
Cloudy vision A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy.
Lens discoloration Your lens slowly changes to a yellowish or brownish color.
Myopic shift When you used to be able to see really well far away but needed reading glasses, then suddenly you don’t need reading glasses anymore, but your distance vision has gotten much worse.
Poor night vision
Glare and halos Cataracts can cause you to see glare or halos around the light sources.
Vision changes Your prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses need frequent updating.
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