Cataract surgery co-management
What are Cataracts?
A cataract is a cloudy area in the normally clear lens of the eye.
There is a lens inside each of your eyes that bends or refracts light coming into the eyes to help you see. Usually, these lenses are clear, but if or when you develop a cataract, your lens becomes cloudy. Your vision becomes blurry and hazy, and looking through a cataract can be like looking through a dirty or foggy window.
Risk Factors for Cataracts
The most common cause for cataracts is the normal age-related changes which cause the clear lens of the eye to become cloudy when the proteins inside the eyes begin to break down. People over the age of 60 can start to develop clouding in their lenses, but typically vision changes happen gradually over several years.
Other risk factors to develop cataracts include:
- A family history of cataracts. If parents, siblings, or other family members have or had cataracts, this could mean you are at higher risk.
- Diabetes. While cataracts are very common as you get older, people who have diabetes may develop them at a much earlier age.
- Certain medications can be associated with the development of cataracts, including corticosteroids, chlorpromazine, and other phenothiazine-related medications.
- A poor diet with nutritional deficiencies including a lack of antioxidants.
- Exposure to UV radiation. Studies show an increased chance of cataract formation with unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts usually form very slowly over a period of years. Signs and symptoms of cataracts include blurry or hazy vision, increased sensitivity to light (especially when driving at night), reduced intensity of colors, and changes in eyeglass prescription.
Cataracts can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam at Decatur Family Eye Care by conducting some or all of the following tests.
- Refraction: During a comprehensive eye exam at Decatur Family Eye Care, we will conduct a refraction to see if there are changes in your vision that require an updated prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- Slit-lamp exam: The doctor at Decatur Family Eye Care will examine your cornea, iris, lens, and other areas in the front of the eye using a special slit-lamp microscope which allows the doctor to see anything abnormal.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT): Your doctor may utilize optical coherence tomography (OCT) to look closely at the retina. This machine scans the retina and provides the doctor with detailed images of the macula and the retina. The doctor may use special drops to dilate your eyes before this test is conducted because it makes it easier to examine the retina. You will be asked to sit in front of the OCT machine so that the scan of your eyes can be completed. Nothing touches your eye, and the test is painless. The test takes about 5–10 minutes to complete.
Your doctor may also measure the pressure within each eye and do some other testing for color vision and sensitivity to glare from light.
Treatment for Cataracts
If you are diagnosed with cataracts, treatment will be determined based on the level of vision impairment. If the cataract isn’t affecting your vision very much or at all, then your doctor may ask you to look out for any vision changes and recommend regular comprehensive eye exams to monitor the situation.
If your cataracts impact vision to the point where you can’t do normal daily activities, surgery may be recommended. The doctors at Decatur Family Eye Care will refer you to a qualified ophthalmologist in the area and will see you for follow-up care after surgery. Cataract surgery is common and very effective; in fact, it’s one of the most common and effective surgeries in the United States.
While cataracts often develop due to the normal process of aging, certain lifestyle changes can help lower your risk of developing them. Wearing quality sunglasses that block UV rays from the sun, quitting smoking, and eating an eye-healthy diet that includes antioxidants can help prevent the development of cataracts.
If you are concerned about cataracts, please contact us today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam.