Click the image below for an informational video about cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. As the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy, it does not allow light to pass through it as well as it did when it was transparent.
What causes a cataract?
Cataract develop as a normal part of aging. They may also be caused by injury, medication exposure and certain diseases such as diabetes. Cataracts may also be present at birth; these are called congenital cataracts.
Symptoms of a cataract
Cataracts are a condition which progresses over time. The more dense the cataracts become, the more severe symptoms are. Cataracts are usually white but can be tinted yellow or brown. This can affect the way color appear.
Common symptoms include:
- Cloudy or blurred vision
- Increased haziness, distortion and yellowed vision
- Difficulty with vision at night or in low lit areas
- Night glare or halos around light (i.e. headlights, street lights)
- Glare from bright lights or sunlight
- Double vision
- Being able to see better without glasses
- Frequent changes in your spectacle or contact lens prescription
- Changes in colour perception
Contact your eye care professional for a complete eye examination
Treating a cataract
In the early stages of cataracts, your vision can be improved by changes in your glasses prescription, using a magnifying glass, or a brighter light. Once these methods no longer help, surgery is recommended. During surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens.
Removal of a cataract
With phacoemulsification, or phaceo, a tiny probe is inserted through a very small incision at the side of the cornea (the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye). This instrument has a needle-like tip, which vibrates at an extremely high rate of speed caused by high frequency sound waves. The ultrasonic vibration breaks the cataract into fine pieces, which are suctioned out of the eye through the needle. After all the cataract material is removed, the back half of the lens or capsule is left behind and the artificial lens is placed inside. Since this surgery is done with a very small incision, the wound closes on its own and no stitches are required. This method of cataract surgery is the preferred choice of doctors.
What is an implant?
Once the lens is removed, the natural focusing ability is also removed during cataract surgery. To replace this focusing ability, an artificial lens (or intraocular lens) is placed inside the eye. The intraocular lens is a tiny artificial lens that is implanted in essentially the same location previously occupied by the natural lens. It is capable of restoring vision to near normal, although you may need to wear regular reading glasses. You will not be able to feel your intraocular lens and it never has to be handled, adjusted or cleaned.
The artificial lens is held in place by gentle, flexible loops. The lens implants are available in all ranges of power so patients can often achieve better vision than they have ever experienced.
The Cataract Procedure
Click here to learn more about the cataract procedure and your options for intraocular lenses.
Click here for an informational video about cataracts.