Are Cataracts in Your Future? What You Need to Know.
Jun 19, 2023
Cataracts are recognized as a natural and inevitable part of the aging process. They are considered one of the leading visual problems in adults over 60. In fact, by age 65 over 90% of people will have developed a cataract! Even if you’re far from your senior years, it’s never too early to learn about this eye condition. During the month of June, which is recognized globally as Cataract Awareness Month, we encourage everyone to discuss the various surgical treatments available for cataracts with your eye care provider.
What is a Cataract?
We all have a natural lens in each eye. Before cataracts develop, the lens is clear, allowing light to pass through and focus on the retina. This is how our eyes focus on objects and produce the images we see every day. As cataracts develop, the lens becomes cloudy, making it increasingly difficult for your eyes to focus and produce clear images. This clouding of your lens is called a Cataract.
The primary cause of cataracts is aging, although other factors such as family history, excessive exposure to UV rays, certain medical diagnoses or medications, and in some cases eye injury or radiation treatments have all been known to contribute to the development of cataracts.
How do Cataracts affect vision?
As cataracts form gradually over time, patients often experience an increase of symptoms such as general blurriness, double vision, or increased light sensitivity. Objects may appear hazy or dull, and colors may seem less vibrant or faded and yellow. Things like reading menus in dimly lit restaurants or driving at night can become more challenging. Many patients also report that their reading glasses or bifocals no longer work quite like they used to. When the quality of your vision begins to limit daily activities, it’s usually time to explore solutions with your eye care provider. So, what options are available for those with cataracts?
How do you treat Cataracts?
Although habits like wearing sunglasses and limiting sun exposure can play a role in slowing cataract development, surgery is the most common treatment option for cataracts. Cataract surgery is now one of the most common outpatient procedures performed in the US, with 3.5 million cases performed each year. Thousands of those procedures have been performed at Wilmington Eye, where our team of board-certified ophthalmic surgeons continuously deliver exceptional surgical results to help patients regain their vision and see clearly again. And with advancements in the medical field, cataract surgery is now quicker, safer, and more effective than ever before, offering a variety of surgical options that can oftentimes decrease and even eliminate a person’s dependence on glasses or contacts. First is the choice of traditional or bladeless laser-assisted surgery. Then, there is the choice of which intraocular lens (IOL) to choose.
Types of Intraocular Lenses
Remember the natural lens in your eye mentioned earlier? During cataract surgery, that lens is removed and replaced with a tiny, artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, or IOL. The surgeons at Wilmington Eye offer several different IOL lenses, each resulting in clear vision following cataracts surgery, while some offer additional benefits. While your cataract surgeon will ultimately determine which IOL is best for you, it’s important to understand the various benefits that each IOL offers.
The Monofocal lens is our standard intraocular lens and the only one covered by most insurance plans. Monofocal IOLs allow patients to focus at a single distance, therefore glasses or contacts will still be required to see at other distances. With a Monofocal IOL, patients are able to see clearly (at a single distance) following their cataract surgery, making it a highly effective choice for treating cataracts.
Patients diagnosed with astigmatism (a medical term that means the surface of your eye is not perfectly round) will likely be interested in the Toric IOL, an advanced premium lens which can correct astigmatism. Similar to a Monofocal IOL, a Toric IOL allows you to focus on objects at a single distance, so reading glasses will still be required after surgery. With a Toric IOL, your cataract surgeon can restore your vision and correct your astigmatism!
A multifocal lens provides patients with an exciting and promising opportunity to reduce and possibly eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses following cataract surgery. Multifocal lenses are some of the most advanced cataract lenses available, providing a full range of brilliant, continuous vision at all distances. With a multifocal IOL, patients can expect to see clearly at all distances—near, intermediate, and distant!
Light Adjustable Lens
One of the newest and most innovative IOL options is the Light Adjustable Lens, the only lens which can be customized after surgery! Patients have the opportunity to spend a few weeks after surgery testing out their new vision to determine if their goals have been met. If further improvements are possible, our surgeons can adjust the lens power to help you reach 20/20 vision or better without the need for glasses. Adjustments can also address issues like astigmatism.
Your cataract surgeon will review each of your options for cataract surgery, selecting only the options best suited to a patient’s vision goals and unique lifestyle. Cataracts become a reality for nearly everyone, whether you are experiencing cataracts yourself or a loved one is. For this reason, we encourage all patients—regardless of their age or ocular health—to learn about cataracts and what treatment options are available. If you or a loved one are having trouble seeing due to cataracts, our board-certified ophthalmologists can improve your vision and help you focus on what’s important in life. Schedule your cataract evaluation today.