What is a Cataract?

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens focuses light rays on the retina at the back of the eye to produce a sharp image of what we see.  When the lens become cloudy, the light rays cannot pass easily through it, and the image becomes blurry.

Cataracts usually develop as part of the aging process, but can also come from:

  • Eye injuries;
  • Certain diseases;
  • Medications;
  • Genetic inheritance.

Cataract 1

How can a Cataract be treated?

The cataract may need no treatment at all if the vision is only a little blurry.  A change in your eyeglass prescription may improve vision for a while.

There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear once they have formed.  When you are not able to see well enough to do the things you like to do, cataract surgery should be considered.  Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.

Cataracts cannot be removed with a laser, only through a surgical incision. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed from the eye.  In most cases, the focusing power of the natural lens is restored by replacing it with a permanent intraocular lens implant.

How is the surgery done?

Under an operating microscope, a small incision is made into the eye. Microsurgical instruments are used to fragment and suction the cloudy lens from the eye.  The back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) is left in place.

A plastic intraocular lens implant will be placed inside the eye to replace the natural lens that was removed.  The incision is usually self-sealing without stitches. Cataract 2

When is the laser used?

The posterior capsule sometimes turns cloudy several months or years after the original cataract operation. If this blurs your vision, a clear opening can be made painlessly in the center of the membrane with a laser.  Laser surgery is never part of the original cataract operation.

Cataract 3

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