A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision.
The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil (see diagram) and works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it. As we age, some of the protein may clump together which reduces the clarity of the lens, forming a cataract. Over time, the cataract may grow, making it harder to see.
Although cataracts can occur at any time they typically start forming during your 40s and 50s. However, cataracts are not usually symptomatic enough to start affecting vision until later in life. These are some of the common symptoms of cataracts:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Colors seem faded
- Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
- Poor night vision.
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye.
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
The only effective treatment for cataracts is a surgical procedure to replace the natural lens of the eye with an artificial lens.
Cataract surgery is quick, painless, and one of the safest surgical procedures available. The entire procedure lasts approximately 20 minutes and usually does not require shots or stitches. Our surgeons make a tiny incision to gently remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens. The intraocular lens implant restores clarity and the focusing power of your eye. Learn more about the different types of lens implants. Our surgeons use the most advanced techniques and lens technologies and have performed thousands of successful surgeries.
What to Expect
Upon arrival in the surgery suite the patient is given medication to relax and feel comfortable during the procedure. The eye is numbed with powerful anesthetizing drops and a microscope is used to perform the delicate surgery. Once the incision has been made, a tiny ultrasonic probe is used to dissolve the cloudy lens. The ultrasound probe is carefully used to clean out all cloudy lens material and preserve the capsule, a delicate membrane that surrounds the lens.
After the cataract has been safely removed, the artificial lens is inserted into the eye and securely placed within the capsule of the original lens. The tiny incision is self-sealing and usually no sutures are required. After surgery there is little or no discomfort for the average patient. At the conclusion of surgery there is a brief stay in the recovery area and the patient is discharged with an appointment for a postoperative visit on the following day.
There are many different considerations in choosing the right lens implant and the doctors at Siskiyou Eye Center will discuss which is best suited for your eye and your lifestyle.