How much of our health do we take for granted until something changes? Our knees begin to ache. Our back twitches every now and then. We begin turning up the television to hear the evening news.
Eyesight and vision problems are often one of those health issues that sneaks up on us and happens gradually, over time.
Healthy vision involves more attention as we age including regular eye exams, medication and even surgical procedures to keep our eyes as strong as possible.
One of the primary concerns for many of us as we age is the issue cataracts. We’ve all heard the term, but there is often confusion about what exactly a cataract is.
Dr. Fakadej of Carolina Eye Associates helps explain what a cataract is, what causes cataracts, and some of the myths about cataracts. Dr. Fakadej also explains cataract surgery including what exactly happens during a cataract surgery and how painful it might be. Finally, Dr. Fakadej offers advice for choosing the best lenses for your surgery.
We are grateful to have local experts offer advice, guidance and information for our readers so that we all better understand how to keep fit and stay healthy as we age.
What is a cataract?
By Anna F. Fakadej, M.D., Cataract & Aesthetic Laser Specialist
Carolina Eye Associates
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. This lens, located behind the iris, works just like the lens of a camera; focusing light images on the retina, which sends images to the brain. The human lens can become so clouded it keeps light and images from reaching the retina. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in adults 55 and older.
A cataract can cause images to become blurred and bright colors to become dull. It can also make seeing at night more difficult. Vision with cataracts is often described as seeing through an old, cloudy film. Is your vision blurry or foggy? Do colors appear dull or muted? Are your glasses no longer working? Does sunlight or other light seem overly bright or glaring? Do you have decreased night vision or see halos around lights? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have cataracts.
Many people believe cataracts have to be “ripe” before they can be removed. This is no longer true. Today, cataract surgery can be performed as soon as your vision interferes with the quality of your life.
Cataract surgery is generally an outpatient procedure with little discomfort. First, you are given an anesthetic to numb the nerves in and/or around the eye. The procedure involves making a tiny incision in the eye. The surgeon then inserts a small instrument into the eye to break up the cloudy lens with ultrasound technology and remove it from the eye. Once the cataract is removed, a new artificial lens is inserted through the same incision.
An Intraocular Lens or IOL is an artificial lens that replaces the cloudy lens. As an alternative to receiving a standard IOL, today many patients have the option to choose advanced technology lenses to fit their individual lifestyle. Often these advanced lenses can reduce the dependence on glasses.
When you are considering cataract surgery, think about how important your near vision is to you. In this day and age, we are using our Smartphones and computer so much that our ability to see up close is very important. This may help you to decide about which type of lens replacement implant you may want to have. There are some exciting choices to help you navigate your world better.
After a thorough examination of your individual needs, your doctor can help you decide which lens is right for you.
These can include:
- Accommodative lens- Unlike traditional lenses that focus at only one or two distances, this lens moves fluidly with the natural action of the eye’s muscle. However, as with all cataract surgery, there is no guarantee the patient will not require glasses or contacts after surgery.
- Multifocal lens- This type of lens is also designed to reduce a patient’s reliance on glasses or contacts, though some may still require additional correction after surgery.
- Toric lens-Some patients have astigmatism, which simply involves a different shape of the front surface of the eye. The Toric lens implant can help reduce astigmatism.
- Blended vision/monovision, is a sophisticated eye treatment which corrects short-sightedness (myopia) in one eye and long-sightedness (hyperopia) in the other eye. Primarily the treatment is for a condition called presbyopia which is the progressive loss of the ability to focus on nearby objects.
Established in 1977, Carolina Eye Associates is one of the largest eye care facilities in the Southeast. The practice provides a full range of first-rate medical and surgical eye care services. For more information on cataract surgery and other services offered by Carolina Eye, call (800) 733-5357 or visit www.carolinaeye.com.
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