Find some commonly asked questions about cataracts and the treatment below. Think you have a cataract? Call us.
What is a Cataract?
Like the lens of a camera, the eye’s lens focuses to keep the images of both close and distant objects clear. Over time, the lens becomes less transparent. Most often, this clouding takes place slowly as proteins within the lens degenerate.
If we live long enough, we will almost certainly develop cataracts, because they are art of the normal aging process, but they may not progress to the point that they affect our ability to engage in daily activities. However, studies suggest that accumulated exposure to ultraviolet light causes the natural lens to cloud, and that certain lifestyle choices and relatively common health conditions, like diabetes, hasten cataract development.
Nutrition may play at least a limited role. Heavy salt consumption, for example, appears to increase the risk of significant cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamins C and E, and selenium, may slow cataract development. All of these nutrients are available in common multivitamin formulas. Beyond that, the use of nutritional supplements carries its own risks, so you should consult your physician before adding them to your diet.
Watch the video below that will go provide a general overview about cataracts:
How would I know if I have a Cataract?
Cataracts do NOT generally cause pain, discomfort, redness, discharge, or sudden, alarming vision changes that would lead you to see immediate help. The changes caused by cataracts generally develop so slowly that you probably would not notice them until they are serious enough to affect your normal lifestyle.
Ask yourself these questions:
Am I having difficulty driving at night?
Is it more difficult to see distant objects?
Does my vision seem blurred or dim?
Have my eyes become more sensitive to light and glare?
Do I see a halo around lights?
Do colors seem “dull”?
Have I had to change eyeglass prescriptions more frequently than usual?
Do I need brighter light for reading?
Does my vision sometimes seem distorted?
Do I see “ghost” images?
Have I experienced double vision in one eye only?
All of these things are difficulties commonly associated with cataracts. Only a professional can determine if cataracts are the cause of your symptoms. If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to call Oregon Trail Eye Center to schedule an evaluation.
*IMPORTANT! - Even if you think you do NOT have cataracts, you should seek medical attention from an eye care professional if you are having troublesome eye symptoms.
Watch the video below for a cataract symptom overview:
What can be done about a Cataract?
The only effective treatment for a cataract is to remove the clouded lens. Not all that many years ago, surgery to remove cataracts involved making a large incision in the eye—and incision that had to be closed with stitches, which made recovery lengthy and uncomfortable. Because the eye’s natural lens had been removed, the patient had to wear eyeglasses with thick lenses to take over the job of focusing.
That was then. It is now possible to restore clear vision and reclaim your life with relatively little discomfort or inconvenience! Modern cataract surgery techniques involve only a very small incision, requiring no stitches!
Watch the video below that provides a cataract treatment overview:
When is it time to schedule a cataract consultation?
If you suspect that you have a cataract, it’s a good idea to schedule a cataract consultation, even if you don’t feel quite ready for surgery yet.
Why? Simply being examined for cataracts can help protect the health of your vision.
Your evaluation may detect more than cataracts. Eye disease like glaucoma and macular degeneration are ‘silent,’ meaning that they don’t cause pain or alarming symptoms that would prompt you to seek medical attention. They often go untreated because people don’t realize there is a problem until they begin to lose vision—vision that they probably won’t be able to get back. If you have developed glaucoma or macular degeneration since your last eye exam, your cataract evaluation may give you the ‘heads-up’ you need to get treatment before these silent thieves steal your vision!
What can I expect during a cataract consultation?
It generally takes about two hours for the doctor, usually assisted by specially trained technicians, to gather all of the data needed and to discuss the results and your options with you and any family members you may want to participate in your decision. You will be asked what medicines you are taking, whether you have any allergies, the details of your medical history, as well as the history of your eyes’ health.
Your evaluation will include a ‘dilated’ eye exam—the type that makes your eyes sensitive to light for a few hours. Some people are able to drive themselves home, but many bring a driver with them.
After your eyes are dilated, your doctor may use a variety of high-tech equipment, such as a ‘slit lamp’ microscope and OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography), to get a good view of the eye’s retina and optic nerve. Your doctor will also perform what’s called ‘refraction,’ the same test used to determine your eyeglass prescription and your best possible vision under a variety of lighting conditions. Computerized measurements of your cornea (the clear covering of the front of your eye) will be taken. Cataract surgery involves replacing the eye’s clouded natural lens with a crystal clear lens implant, and your cataract evaluation includes testing and measurements that ensure that the replacement lens is a good fit for your eye.
Your doctor will review all of this information and then meet with you to discuss your treatment options. If surgery is recommended, you and your doctor will also review your replacement lens options.
If you decide to have surgery, you will probably meet with the member of the team who coordinates scheduling surgery and follow-up appointments. This person can also answer many of your questions. You will be given the information you need to prepare for the day of surgery, as well as instructions for caring for yourself after surgery.
At every step in the process, you will have opportunities to ask questions and get the answers you need to make a good decision.
Before you have surgery, there are some decisions to make...
During cataract surgery, the surgeon removes the lens that has been clouded by a cataract and replaces it with a new crystal-clear intraocular lens implant.
During your consultation, you will be asked to select the type of intraocular lens you want to have implanted. Relax—there are no ‘bad’ choices; each of the lenses you will be offered will give you clear vision. The choice you make will be affected by, among other things, how you feel about remaining dependent on reading glasses or bifocals after your cataract surgery.
One of your choices is a MONOFOCAL replacement intraocular lens. You will have clear vision, but this lens cannot compensate for age-related loss of reading vision (“presbyopia”), so those who opt for this type of replacement lens usually need glasses to improve near vision or to fine-tune distance vision. Most monofocal lens recipients are quite happy with their choice. However, if you are very bothered by your need for reading glasses or bifocals, you may want to consider another type of replacement intraocular lens.
You may find an advanced MULTIFOCAL replacement intraocular lens implant (what we call a “premium lifestyle implant) a more appealing option if being less dependent on bifocals and reading glasses is important to you. The design of this premium lifestyle replacement intraocular lens makes it possible to take vision to a new level by restoring our youthful ability to focus on objects at varying distances. These lenses are engineered to provide a full range of quality vision and may reduce your dependence on glasses or contacts.
We are very excited to now be able to offer our cataract patients an all new premium TRIFOCAL intraocular replacement lens. A premium lens called the PanOptix Lens. To learn more about this new revolutionary, premium intraocular lens and to watch actual patient testimonials; click HERE.
Which replacement lens is right for me?
This question can be answered only after careful consideration of the health of your eyes, your individual lifestyle and the demands of your occupation and hobbies.
Before advising you, your eye surgeon will want to know more about:
The kind of work you do
How many hours a day you read and what types of reading you do
How many hours a day you use a computer
The types of outdoor activities you enjoy
Your hobbies, and whether you do close work, like sewing or knitting
How much driving you do at night
Whether you like to travel
How bothered you are by wearing glasses
Ultimately, the decision is yours. Ask yourself, “What would my life be like without glasses?” If you opt for a premium lifestyle replacement lens, your surgeon will select the technology that best meets the visual demands you face.
Watch the video below that will provide an overview of lens choices:
Have you made the decision to have cataract surgery? Now what?
Click the "Learn More" button below to be taken to our Cataract Surgery page and learn more about cataract surgery; the preparation, the procedure and the expectations for life after surgery.
A website can go only so far in answering your questions about cataracts. Your eyes are unique and your vision is precious! If you suspect that you have a cataract, you should be evaluated by an eye care professional, who will answer ALL of your questions.
Even if you think you do NOT have cataracts, you should seek medical attention from an eye care professional if you are having troublesome eye symptoms.