At Round Rock Eye Consultants, we work with many patients who are diagnosed with cataracts. As a result, we have heard virtually every question under the sun. In this article, we have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions in order to help you learn about this condition and how to treat it.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a cloudiness or haziness that appears on the lens of the eye. The lens is located between the front and the back of the eye, directly behind the pupil. Its role is to help focus light on the retina, which is where images are formed. The cloudiness of the cataract makes things appear to be blurry, hazy or less colorful or clear.
What causes cataracts? How can they be prevented?
The majority of cataracts develop due to aging. Cataracts may also be caused by an injury to the tissue of the lens. In addition, there are some genetic disorders, eye conditions, and medical conditions like diabetes that can increase your risk of developing cataracts. Extensive use of steroids overtime may also cause cataracts.
While there is no research that proves how to prevent cataracts, eye doctors have some suggestions that may prevent or slow the progression of the condition.
See your eye doctor regularly. When you get regular eye exams, eye conditions like cataracts can be caught earlier, leading to better outcomes.
Don’t smoke. As if you need another reason to quit smoking, eye doctors also suggest quitting smoking to reduce your chances of developing cataracts. Talk to your doctor about strategies for quitting smoking.
Eat a healthy diet. Make sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain antioxidants which may help eye health. A large population study found that a vitamin-rich diet was associated with a reduced risk of cataracts. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated — simply adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet is a safe and effective way to increase the antioxidants you get.
Wear sunglasses. Protect your eyes from UVB rays when you’re outside by wearing sunglasses. UVB rays may contribute to cataract development.
Reduce alcohol intake. Binge drinking over time may increase the risk of developing cataracts.
When am I most likely to develop cataracts?
It’s typical for cataracts to begin to form decades before symptoms appear. You may begin developing cataracts in your 40s, but not notice symptoms until your 60s.
Do I need cataract surgery?
If you have cataracts, your eye doctor will talk to you about whether or not you will need cataract surgery. Often, the early symptoms of cataracts can be addressed with lifestyle interventions, such as investing in brighter lighting, new glasses, and anti-glare sunglasses.
However, if these steps don’t help, surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts. Surgery removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. This is necessary if cataracts result in vision loss that disrupts daily life. When you meet with your ophthalmologist in Round Rock, you can decide together whether cataract surgery is right for you.
Sometimes, even if you aren’t having direct vision problems due to your cataracts, it may still be advisable to consider removal. This may be the case if cataracts are preventing your eye doctor from examining or treating a different eye condition, such as macular degeneration.
What should I expect before cataract surgery?
Your eye doctor will perform some tests a week or two before your cataract surgery. They will measure the curve of your cornea and the size and shape of your eye. This information will help them determine the correct intraocular lens for you. You should also keep in mind that you will be asked not to drink or eat anything for 12 hours before your surgery.
What should I expect during cataract surgery?
Once you come to our eye clinic in Round Rock, we will dilate your pupil using drops. We will wash the area around your eye to prevent infection. Once the procedure begins, it only takes up to an hour and is virtually painless. You may choose to stay awake during the surgery, in which case, an anesthetic will be used to numb the nerves of your eye. Alternatively, you may need to be put to sleep. We will then place a patch over your eye while you rest and we keep a lookout for any problems, such as bleeding. Most patients are able to go home the same day, but you will need someone else to drive you home.
What should I expect after cataract surgery?
When you are recovering from cataract surgery, it’s normal to experience itching and some discomfort. You may also have some fluid discharge. You may find your eyes are more sensitive to light and touch. After a couple of days, discomfort should subside.
In the weeks after surgery, you may need to use eye drops to aid in healing and prevent infection. You will also need to wear eye shields to protect your eye, and you will need to avoid pressing on your eye. You should also avoid heavy lifting or bending at the waist to pick things up.
For most people, the healing process will be complete after eight weeks. During that time, you will meet with your doctor for exams to monitor your progress.
What will my vision be like after cataract surgery?
Your post-surgery vision will depend on how advanced your cataracts were, which type of lens your doctor used, what other eye conditions you have, and how quickly your eyes heal. Most people begin to see better immediately after surgery, but it may take you time to get used to your intraocular lens before you see more quickly.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries you can have. In rare cases, risks include inflammation, bleeding, swelling, infection, retinal detachment, or loss of vision.
If you’re ready to learn more about if cataract surgery is right for you, contact Round Rock Eye Consultants. We would be happy to help you. Schedule your consultation today!