Ilex Eye: Eye Doctors in Waterloo

Cataracts

How does a cataract affect vision?

A cataract acts like a filter that reduces the amount of light that reaches the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Common symptoms include colors appearing dull, general blurring, and glare, particularly with night driving. Cataracts may also cause a change in prescription, typically an increase in nearsightedness and astigmatism. In fact, a lens update may be all that is necessary to address an early cataract.

How will my optometrist diagnose a cataract?

Each and every comprehensive eye examination includes the use of an instrument known as the slit lamp biomicroscope, a specialized microscope that provides a magnified view of the external and internal structures of the eye. Aided by a detailed case history (family history, general health, medications, and symptoms), your optometrist will assess your eye health, and make recommendations for treatment and follow-up.

What can be done if I have a cataract?

With early cataracts, the symptoms may be addressed with nothing more than a change in eyeglass prescription. Given that cataracts typically change slowly, this may be all that is necessary in some situations. Should the symptoms continue to progress, cataract surgery may be recommended. In this case, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist for consultation. While some may argue with the term ‘minor surgery’ (any surgery on me isn't minor ...), cataract extraction with lens implant is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in North America, and has a very high success rate.  Modern techniques utilize topical anesthesia, take less than 15 minutes, and no stitches are necessary. Recovery is very quick – anti-inflammatory drops are used for several weeks following surgery, and most patients are able to return to normal activity levels almost right away.

What is a cataract, and what causes one to form?

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye, just behind the iris centered in the pupil. Contrary to common perception, it is not a ‘film’ on the surface of the eye, although it certainly can cause vision to appear ‘filmy’, among other symptoms.

Cataracts are an inevitable consequence of aging: if you live long enough, you’ll get a cataract. Some general health conditions (like diabetes) and medications (like steroids) can cause cataracts, and longterm exposure to ultraviolet radiation has long been implicated in cataract formation.

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