Cataract Awareness Month: What You Need to Know About Cataracts

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 3-Jun-2014

JUNEsmallThere are more than 24 million Americans aged 40 and older who have cataracts, according to Prevent Blindness America. The condition, which affects primarily aging adults, is the leading cause of blindness in America.

In order to educate the public and raise awareness about cataracts, symptoms and cataract treatment options, Prevent Blindness America declared June as Cataract Awareness Month.

What are cataracts?

In a healthy eye, light travels through the pupil of the eye, where it is focused through the clear lens onto the retina. The lens, which is made mostly of water and protein, can develop clumps of protein with age. These protein deposits are what cause the lens to become cloudy. Mild clouding of the eye may not affect vision much, but when a majority of the lens becomes clouded, that is when serious vision problems develop and treatment becomes necessary.

In most cases, cataracts are related to normal aging. However, there are cataracts that can develop from other causes.

Congenital cataracts: Developmental or congenital cataracts can develop even in infants or children. This type of cataract is typically associated with genetics or with birth defects, though in some rare cases, there is no clear cause of the cataracts.
Cataracts from disease or medication: In some cases, cataracts may be caused by disease, such as diabetes, or by a previous eye surgery. Excessive use of steroid medications to treat other medical conditions may also lead to the development of cataracts.
Traumatic cataracts: A traumatic injury to the eye may also cause cataracts to develop. In some cases, these cataracts will develop soon after the injury, while in other cases they may take months or even years to develop.

Signs and symptoms of cataracts vary based on the severity of the cataracts. If the cataracts remain small, they may not affect vision much at all, but the larger and denser the cataracts, the more they will affect vision and require cataract surgery for treatment.

As cataracts develop, they can affect your ability to see in several ways. If you have experienced any of these symptoms listed below, you may have cataracts and should schedule an exam today. Common symptoms of cataracts include:

• Difficulty seeing street signs, curbs and freeway exits
• Difficulty seeing traffic lights or seeing a halo or glare around lights
• Difficulty focusing while watching TV or movies
• Difficulty seeing the faces clearly
• Difficulty writing and reading
• Difficulty playing games or sports
• Difficulty navigating around the house with normal daily activities

Click hereto view a cataract simulator to see how cataracts might affect your vision.

What are the treatment options for cataracts?

Once cataracts begin to develop, there is no way to make the lens clear again. Cataracts will steadily limit a person’s ability to simple tasks such as seeing street signs, reading a book or driving at night.

In order to restore vision that has been lost due to cataracts, a patient must undergo cataract surgery, during which the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. Unlike other eye conditions, treating cataracts isn’t urgent (unless they are so advanced that you are completely unable to see) because although they affect your vision, cataracts do not typically cause damage to the eye.

Key-Whitman provides several options to cataract patients for lens replacement than the standard monofocal lens, which corrects vision at a single distance. Multifocal and Accommodating lenses will correct vision at a variety of distances and may even reduce or eliminate the need to wear reading glasses following surgery. Cataract treatment options available at Key-Whitman include:

Crystalens®: An intraocular, accommodating lens implant that is used to improve vision near and far away. Individuals who undergo Crystalens® laser eye surgery can eliminate their dependence on contact lenses, bifocals and reading glasses. Crystalens® is the most advanced form of intraocular lens implant cataract surgery. It is also the only naturally focusing lens available to correct vision at multiple focus distances.
TECNIS® Multifocal Lens: An implantable lens used to correct near and far vision and may also reduce or eliminate your need for reading glasses due to presbyopia. Ninety-four percent of patients say they would choose TECNIS Multifocal lenses again.
AcrySof® IQ ReSTOR®: An intraocular lens (IOL) that is the latest advancement in cataract surgery technology. The AcrySof® IQ ReSTOR® IOL is designed to provide enhanced image quality and a wide range of vision, giving cataract patients a great opportunity to live life less dependent on glasses.
AcrySof® IQ Toric: Implantable lenses designed specifically for cataract patients with astigmatism. If you have astigmatism, you may still experience blurred and distorted vision with a monofocal intraocular lens, but the AcrySof® IQ Toric lens will be better able to restore your vision by addressing the astigmatism as well.

If you have noticed symptoms of cataracts, including difficulty seeing, blurred vision or seeing a halo or glare around lights, or if you have difficulty completing simple daily tasks, schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam. If you would like more information about cataract treatment options or would like to schedule a consult, contact the cataract specialists at Key-Whitman.

Categories: Cataracts
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