Q: What are cataracts?
Cataracts are normal changes to the natural lens within the eye. As we age, our lenses become less flexible and start to become cloudy leading to blurry, and distorted vision. Cataracts cannot be corrected by glasses, refractive surgery, or contact lenses.
Q: Can cataracts be avoided?
There are no known medicines to stop or reverse these changes in the lens. Diabetes, steroid use, trauma, smoking, alcohol, excessive sunlight or radiation can speed up cataract formation. In some cases, cataracts are present at birth and are genetic or caused by a problem during development.
Q: What kind of symptoms could develop from a cataract?
Cataracts primarily cause decreased vision, but can also cause an array of other symptoms. These include starbursts, halos, glare around lights, and even double vision as they progress. Depending on the location of the cataract within the lens, it can affect different daily tasks, such as reading and night driving. Contrast sensitivity and color vision may also be affected by the development of a cataract.
Q: What are IOLs & how do IOLs help after cataract surgery?
An IOL is an intraocular lens implant which replaces your natural lens after surgery. The IOL will actually correct the power of your eye, so it will likely reduce your dependence on eyeglasses. Most patients have significantly improved vision and clarity after cataract surgery.
- If you have a cataract, does that mean you have to have it removed? When is the appropriate time?
Cataracts develop slowly and painlessly, and eventually a change in the prescription may not allow for satisfactory vision. Some patients will have cataracts that will never be ready for surgery throughout their lifetime, and others may develop cataracts earlier in life. It is time to start considering surgery once it is affecting your vision or your doctor tells you they have advanced.
Q: Would prior medical conditions or medications be a problem for the cataract surgery? If so, are there any common examples that one should inform their surgeon?
You should always disclose all medications, inclusive of any supplements you are taking. It is very important to inform your surgeon if you have been taking or have taken in the past medications called Flomax (Tamulosin), Uroxatrol (Alfuzosin), or Cardura (Doxazosin).
Q: If you have cataracts in both eyes, do you operate on both at the same time, or separately? And how much time is there between?
Once you are cleared for surgery, you will schedule surgery for the first eye with the surgical coordinator. After the first eye surgery is complete, the other eye will be completed within 1 month. Many patients have their second eye done within 2-6 weeks after the first eye. If the second cataract is not significant, you can wait until it progresses
Q: Once you have gone through cataract surgery, is the correction permanent, or can cataracts reappear?
Once you have undergone cataract surgery, it is likely the correction will be permanent and will not change. Within the first few months after surgery, there is a chance of a secondary cataract forming, which can easily be removed non-invasively using a laser.
by Dr. Priya Patel