A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens. It is a common problem related to aging. In fact, by the time Americans reach age 75, about half of us will have cataracts to one degree or another. It’s important to schedule an eye exam as soon as you notice signs that you are developing cataracts because this is a progressive condition that won’t improve by itself. If you do have a cataract, you need not be alarmed, however. Because cataracts are so common, surgery to correct this condition has been extensively tested and improved over the years and is now a fast, out-patient procedure. At St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute in Largo, Florida, we have performed cataract surgery for thousands of patients in the Tampa Bay area since our founding in 1961. Patients who reported that cataracts were impeding their vision now experience newfound joy in activities like reading, watching TV, or simply admiring a sunset.
Causes of Cataracts
Most cataracts are caused by normal changes in your eyes as you age. Around age 40, the proteins in the lens of your eye may start to break down and clump together, forming a small cloudy area on your lens—or a cataract. Over time, the cataract may grow and cloud more of your lens, making it harder to see. The lens can also take on a yellowish color, which may impair your ability to perceive colors accurately. It’s not yet known why the lens changes with age, but there are risk factors associated with cataract development, including:
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Taking statin medicines to reduce cholesterol
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
Symptoms of Cataracts
At first, a cataract may have little effect on your vision, but as the cataract grows, you may notice changes such as:
- Haloes or starbursts around lights at night
- Dimming daytime vision
- Worsening nighttime vision
- Blurry vision
- Double vision in one eye
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
- Increased sensitivity to light
- A need for brighter light when reading or working
Although cataracts usually occur later in life, there are other types of cataracts that can show up earlier. If you notice the above symptoms at any age, you should schedule an eye exam so that your eye doctor can monitor the progression of your cataract and recommend corrective surgery at the right time.
How Cataract Surgery Is Performed
A cataract operation is a simple, relatively painless procedure that takes an hour or less to perform. Surgery is done on one eye at a time. First, the clouded lens in your eye must be removed. Your surgeon will do this by making a tiny incision in your cornea and inserting a special tool that uses ultrasonic energy to break up the clouded lens. Your surgeon will then remove the pieces through the incision. After that, the surgeon will implant a clear, artificial lens by rolling it up and inserting it through the incision. The lens will unroll once it is in place.
Cataract Surgery Recovery
You will need to protect your eye according to your doctor’s instructions for up to a week, and use prescription eye drops to prevent infection. You will probably notice that your vision is clearer immediately. (In fact, some lenses used for cataract correction can correct your vision, too.) It takes about a month for your eye to heal completely after a cataract operation.
Cataract Treatment at St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute
St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute performs cataract surgery on patients of any age. If you’re concerned that you may have a cataract, please don’t hesitate to contact us. As a family-owned surgery center serving Largo and other Tampa Bay communities for three generations, we’re staffed with skilled physicians committed to offering the highest standard of patient care with a personal touch.