A cataract is when the lens in your eye (like the lens of a camera) becomes cloudy instead of clear. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a growth or a membrane that grows over the eye.
How do I know if I have a cataract?
By having a dilated eye examination your doctor can look directly at the lens in your eye and see if it is clouding to form a cataract. He or she can also make sure that the eye is otherwise healthy by looking behind the cataract at the retina and optic nerve.
Are there symptoms of a cataract?
Yes, in general as the cataract progresses (the lens becomes more cloudy) you will notice that your vision is not as clear as before because the cataract is not letting as much light into your eye. Sometimes people will also notice that they get lots of glare while driving at night or that they have difficulty reading small print without the aid of bright reading light.
If I have a cataract, do I need surgery?
Not necessarily. In the early stages of a cataract a simple change in glasses may be enough to meet your visual needs. As the cataract progresses you may eventually need cataract surgery to achieve your best possible vision.
How do I decide when I am ready for cataract surgery?
This is different for everyone and is best determined by having an examination and a personal consultation with your ophthalmologist.
But if I wait won’t there be problems?
In very rare circumstances this might be true, but usually not. Your ophthalmologist will tell you if this is the case. Otherwise, the cataract does not need to be removed until it is bothering you and that is different for every person.
Are there alternatives to cataract surgery to fix a cataract?
Not exactly. In the early stages a new pair of glasses can sometimes refocus the light to overcome the cataract. However, after a certain point only surgery will improve the vision and your ophthalmologist can help you to determine if you are at that point.
Aren’t there any pills or drops to cure a cataract?
Unfortunately at this time no eye drops, medications or excercises have been proven to fix cataracts.
Can I prevent myself from getting cataracts?
Not always, but there are things you can do to help prevent them or slow them down. Limiting sun exposure by wearing sunglasses or wide-brimmed hats helps. Also, smoking is known to cause cataracts so quitting smoking can be helpful. No specific vitamins have been shown to prevent or slow down cataracts yet.
What causes cataracts?
A lot of things, but mostly it’s just an aging process of the lens in your eye. However, we know that excessive sun exposure, injuries to the eye, exposure to steroid medications and certain other medications, diabetes and smoking can contribute to cataracts.
Our Surgical Office is available to answer any other questions you might have at (248) 334-4931, ext. 1161.
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