Cataracts are a condition in which a cloudy or milky substance covers the lens of the eye, blurring or blocking vision. They are very common in the United States, particularly in people over the age of 50; one recent study found that over 24 million people suffered from cataracts in 2010 alone. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than half of all Americans will develop cataracts by the age of 80. Furthermore, cataracts are a progressive condition and will only worsen over time without proper treatment.
The most common symptom of cataracts is a slow clouding of the eye that ultimately blurs or blocks vision. While they are rarely painful, they do cause a decrease in visual acuity, glares in the visual field, a dulling of colors, and changes in your prescription glasses needs. The most effective treatment options for cataracts is to entirely replace the lens of the eye through cataract surgery. New advances and techniques in surgical technology have made cataract surgery a relatively safe procedure with a very high success rate. It is performed on an outpatient basis, and more than 95 percent of surgeries ultimately improve vision.
What To Expect
During the procedure, your physician will start by dilating your pupil and administering preoperative medication. They will then create a corneal incision, allowing them to access the lens of your eye and remove the anterior capsule, fragment the cataract and create peripheral corneal incisions to reduce astigmatism, if necessary. Finally, an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens, will be placed into your eye. Throughout the procedure, you should not feel any pain beyond a slight discomfort.
Following the procedure, your physician will conduct a post-operative evaluation before you’re released home. Despite the quick recovery, you will still need someone to drive you home and you probably won’t be able to go into work that day. Best vision is usually achieved within four to six weeks.