WHAT IS A CATARACT ?
A cataract is a clouding of the normally transparent lens of the eye. The lens of the eye, located behind the pupil and the iris, is normally clear. Like the lens of a camera it is used to focus images onto the retina at the back of the eye before they are transmitted to the brain. When a cataract forms, the images are not clearly focused onto the retina. This page will focus on Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, Cataract Surgery Overview.
Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms:
WHAT CAUSES CATARACTS?
The clouding of the eye’s lens is usually caused by chemical changes associated with the normal aging process. However, heredity, infection, eye injury, increased UV light exposure, smoking, poor nutrition and diabetes are other factors that can lead to cataracts. A clouding or yellowing of the lens results in the symptoms of a cataract.
HOW COMMON ARE CATARACTS?
Although most prevalent in adults, a cataract can occur in young people, and sometimes can even be found in babies at birth. WHO IS AT RISK? As medical advances have succeeded in lengthening the human lifespan, more and more Americans are – and will be – entering the age group associated with the development of cataracts. It has been said that if we live long enough, most of us will develop a cataract.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Problems driving at night
- Cloudy, fuzzy or filmy vision
- Changes in the way you see colors
- Increased glare from lamps, headlights or the sun
- Frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription
- Double Vision
- Blurry vision is a hallmark of cataracts.
- Distortion or ghost images in either eye
Since symptoms usually develop gradually, most people don’t suspect cataracts. Routine eye exams by Dr. Duplessie can detect the early signs of cataracts.
CAN CATARACTS BE PREVENTED?
The cataract may need no treatment at all if your vision is only a little blurry. A change in your eyeglass prescription may improve vision for a while. There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear once they have formed. When your vision interferes with your normal activities, cataract surgery should be considered. Cataracts are removed with an ultrasound device. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens. The lens is permanent. Since the lens is opaque in a cataract, colors can frequently be muted and after cataract surgery everything appears brighter.
WILL CATARACT SURGERY IMPROVE MY VISION?
Today, cataract surgery is safe and very effective. Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed procedures in the United States, it is also one of the most consistently successful procedures. Over 95% of cataract surgeries improve vision, but no surgery is risk free. Dr. Duplessie has performed thousands of surgeries and specializes in the removal of cataracts.
CATARACT SURGERY CUTS CAR ACCIDENT RATES IN HALF
A study in the Journal of American Medical Association determined that patients with cataracts are nearly twice as likely to have a car accident.
CATARACT SURGERY & MACULAR DEGENERATION ?
Dr. Armbrecht of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh studied this question and concluded that most patients with mild to moderate degrees of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) experienced significant improvements in quality of life following cataract surgery. Removal of the cataract allowed more clear, undistorted light to fall on the retina, so even damaged retina tissue could function better. Cataract surgery on most patients with mild to moderate ARMD is beneficial in improving their quality of life.
Even if the surgery itself is successful, the eye may still not see as well as you would like. Other problems with the eye, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes may limit vision after surgery. Even with such problems, cataract surgery may still be worthwhile. If the eye is healthy, the chances are excellent that you will have good vision following the removal of your cataract.
Cataract Surgery Overview
WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE SURGERY?
You will need a complete eye examination prior to having surgery. Once you and Dr. Duplessie have decided that you will have your cataract removed, a physical examination by your medical doctor is necessary so that Dr. Duplessie may be alerted to any special medical risks. Ask Dr. Duplessie about taking your medications on the day of surgery. Your eye will be measured to determine the proper power of the intra-ocular lens that will be placed in your eye during surgery. This is called an A-Scan ultrasound.
HOW IS THE CATARACT REMOVED?
Dr. Duplessie’s preferred technique is a quick vision, small incision, no shot, no stitch, no patch cataract surgery. The surgery is called Phacoemulsification, or phaco. Phaco-emulsification is the most advanced form of cataract surgery, Using an operating microscope, a microscopic incision is made into the eye. An ultrasound device is used to remove the cloudy lens from the eye. A plastic intra-ocular lens (IOL) implant will be placed inside the eye to replace the natural lens that was removed. Stitches are not typically required. Phacoemulsification with a small handpiece allows the creation of a very small wound.
IS THERE A SPECIAL TYPE OF INTRA-OCULAR LENS FOR ME?
Dr. Duplessie uses the finest intra-ocular lenses available. There are three material presently used for intra-ocular lenses:
- polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA),
Today’s intra-ocular lenses are very safe and effective. An intraocular lens takes the place of the natural lens that has to be removed during cataract surgery.