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A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens, also known as the crystalline lens. The lens is a clear structure within the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred. Eye cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 40. It is also the principal cause of blindness in the world.
Types of Eye Cataract
Age Related or “Senile” Cataract
The most common type, senile cataracts are a result of the aging process. There are three main types of senile cataracts, defined by their location within the lens, including nuclear sclerotic, cortical, and posterior subcapsular.
Cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems.
Cataracts can develop from other health problems, such as diabetes.
Cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.
Cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.
Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.
Cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.
What Causes a Cataract?
Exposure to UV radiation from sunlight and other sources
Certain systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension
Medications such as corticosteroids, statins and hormone replacement therapy
Previous eye surgery, injury or inflammation
Lifestyle choices such as smoking and significant alcohol consumption
One theory of cataract formation that's gaining favor is that many cataracts are caused by oxidative changes in the human lens. This is supported by nutrition studies that show fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants may help prevent certain types of cataracts. To learn more, see our section on preventative eye care and nutrition.
Symptoms Associated with Cataracts
Cloudy or blurry vision.
Colors seem faded.
Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
Poor night vision.
Double vision or multiple images in one eye.
Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.
Cataract Treatment Options
The decision when to have cataract surgery can be a challenge for people. There are many factors involved in the decision-making process, both from the clinical findings of a comprehensive eye exam as well as the visual comfort during daily activities. For those with mild to moderate cataracts, the decision to undergo cataract surgery is a personal one. It is a treatment of choice, not a requirement.
Dr. Yecheskel provides tailored guidance based on her expertise as well as the individual needs of each patient. Her compassionate approach to the decision making process empowers each individual to make the right decision for themselves when to have cataract surgery. Once the decision is made to undergo cataract surgery, Dr. Yecheskel works closely with the surgeon to ensure optimal care throughout the entire process.
When symptoms begin to appear, it is important to maximize the quality of your vision by updating your glasses with the most current prescription and utilizing appropriate magnification and lighting.
It is important to consider surgery when your cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair your vision and affect your daily life. Many people consider poor vision an inevitable fact of aging, but cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision.
Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, with more than 3 million Americans undergoing cataract surgery each year, according to PBA.
During surgery, the surgeon will remove your clouded lens and in most cases replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL). New IOLs are being developed all the time to make the surgery less complicated for surgeons and the lenses more helpful to patients. Multifocal IOL’s can potentially help you see at all distances, not just one, without the use of glasses. Another new type of IOL blocks both ultraviolet and blue light, protecting the retina from potentially harmful rays. Overall, the goal of cataract surgery is to create clear and comfortable vision.
If you would like more information on how our cataract eye specialist doctor in the Rockville, Maryland and Washington, DC area can help you, contact us to schedule an appointment.