Cataracts: What Are They & What Do I Do About Them?
Most of us recognize a cataract when we see one; a cloudy or milky film on the surface of the eye. But what else do we know about cataracts? Are they painful? Do they ever go away? Can anyone get them?
The highly trained staff at Complete Family Eye Care are prepared to not only diagnose your cataracts, but to help you with what’s next. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and put your fears to rest.
What is a Cataract?
In a lot of ways, a cataract is exactly what it looks like; a hazy fog in the lens of your eye.
Your lens is made of proteins and water. The proteins are spaced far enough apart that you can easily see through them. However, as you get older, the proteins start to restructure, getting closer together with less space in-between. The more the proteins group together, the more opaque the lens becomes, making it difficult for light to travel through.
Who is at Risk of Developing Cataracts?
At the end of the day, anyone can develop a cataract, and for the most part, everyone does. Almost everyone over the age of 60 has some level of cataract development. There are, however, some factors that contribute to the development of cataracts.
You’re More Likely to Develop Cataracts If:
- You smoke
- You’re overweight
- You have diabetes
- You don’t wear UV protective sunglasses in the sun
- You’re a heavy drinker
- You’ve had eye surgery
- You have high blood pressure
- You’ve used steroids for an extended period of time
At first, cataracts are just monitored and sometimes treated by increasing the patient’s eyeglass prescription. But eventually, they’ll become so opaque that changing the power of the prescription doesn’t help anymore. At this point, the patient will usually have cataract surgery.
This procedure is relatively simple and extremely effective. An ophthalmologist will use a small ultrasonic device to break up the natural, cloudy lens. Once they’ve removed the pieces, they’ll replace your natural lens with an implant called an intraocular lens or IOL by sliding it in through a small incision in the cornea.
Patients usually report a significant improvement in clarity and color after the surgery, which only takes about 15 minutes per eye.
Recovering From Surgery
After your procedure, you’ll be given a plastic eye shield; this keeps any sort of dirt or bacteria from getting into your eye and causing an infection. We recommend sleeping in the eye shield for the first few days, so you don’t accidentally rub your eye in your sleep. It will take some time for your eyes to recover, so it’s best to take it easy for a few days after surgery and avoid any straining or heavy lifting.
You might feel some itching, a little bit of pain in the eye, or a headache. All of these things are a normal part of the healing process. Just take any medications exactly as described. We’ll see you for a follow up visit a few days after surgery to evaluate your eyes and make sure you’re healing properly.
The more you know about cataracts, the better prepared you will be to deal with them – or help prevent them in the first place!