What is a cataract?

This is clouding of your natural lens.  The lens works to focus light and images on the retina.  It is located just behind the iris, or colored part of the eye.  In most people this occurs as a normal part of aging.  Occasionally some conditions can cause a person to develop cataracts at an earlier age/accelerated rate.

What are symptoms of cataract?

Blurred vision

Faded or dull colors

Difficulty reading

Glasses are no longer effective

Halos or glare around lights (often causes difficulty driving at night)

Feeling that there is a "film" over the eye

Once a cataract has developed there are no pills or lasers that will make it go away.  Cataracts are treated in a complex but safe procedure where your natural lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens.  This artificial lens in most all cases will last the rest of your life.

What to expect?

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States today. 

Prior to surgery measurements will be taken to determine which lens will work best for you.  You will then be given instructions for your surgery day.  The surgery day usually entails arriving at a surgery center on the day of your procedure where you will receive medicine to calm and relax you.  An anesthetic will be given to numb the eye which will then be cleaned and draped to keep the area sterile.

The surgery is performed using special equipment that breaks up the cataract and removes it from the eye.  The new artificial lens will then be placed in the eye.  A shield will cover the eye when you leave the operating room and instructions will be given for drops and care of the eye until your follow up appointment.

Surgery generally takes 30 minutes or less and most patients see improvement on the same or following day.  Most people are able to resume simple everyday activities in a few days.  However, everyone is different and sometimes the healing process will take longer.

Talk to your ophthalmologist for more information about cataracts and cataract surgery.