A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye that can affect your vision. Cataracts become very common as people age. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
Causes of cataracts
Age is the most common cause of cataracts. Normal proteins in the lens start to break down around age 40. This is what makes the lens cloudy.
Other risk factors for the development of cataract include a family history of cataracts, medical conditions such as diabetes, history of eye injury or trauma, spending a lot of time in the sun, and the use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids.
Symptoms of cataracts
You may have cataract symptoms such as:
- Blurry vision
- Colors that seem faded
- Glare or haloes around headlights, lamps or sunlight
- Difficulty seeing well at night
- Double vision
- Frequent prescription changes in your glasses
Diagnosis of cataracts
Your ophthalmologist may use the following tests to check for cataracts:
- Visual acuity test and refraction. This assesses the clarity of your vision and the power of glasses correction needed to obtain your best vision. Each eye is tested separately for the ability to see letters of varying sizes.
- Slit-lamp exam. With this exam, your ophthalmologist will use a special microscope to examine the structures in the front of your eye, such as your cornea, iris and lens.
- Retinal exam. With your eyes dilated, the pupils become large, which allows your eye doctor to see the back of your eye more clearly and assess for any other causes of decreased vision.
Treatment of cataracts
Cataracts are not harmful to the eye, and are generally observed if they are mild and not causing any visual problems or symptoms. If your cataracts aren’t severe and you are younger than 65, you should have an eye exam every two years. If you’re 65 or older, you should have an eye exam every year.
Cataracts can only be removed with surgery. During cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will remove the eye’s natural lens (which is the cataract), and replace it with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens implant. This will allow your vision to once again be clear.
During cataract surgery recovery, you may have to use eye drops. You should avoid getting soap or water directly in your eye, as well as rubbing or pressing on the eye. Your ophthalmologist will talk with you about how active you can be after surgery.
Some people who have had cataract surgery find that their vision becomes hazy again down the road. This can occur over the course of months to years. This is usually because the lens capsule (which is the structure that previously held the cataract in place, and now holds the intraocular lens implant) has become cloudy. Your ophthalmologist can use a laser to open the cloudy capsule and restore your vision. This is called a capsulotomy.
Why choose Ohio State for cataract treatment
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s experienced ophthalmologists are highly trained to perform thorough evaluations, use state-of-the-art equipment and offer cutting-edge technology. We provide patient-centered surgery that’s tailored to meet your specific needs.
We work in a collaborative and innovative environment to provide the best outcomes. Our expert patient educators will explain how to take care of your eyes. We treat every patient with the utmost respect and dignity.
Cataract surgery frequently asked questions
Do I need to do any tests before my surgery?
Do I need to take any additional medication?
Will I need a driver?
How should I prepare for cataract surgery?
What can I expect the day of cataract surgery?