Cataracts occur when the proteins in the eye lens begin to degrade and/or clump together. The opacity resulting from cataracts eventually worsens and blocks light from focusing on the retina correctly. This fogging of the lens of the eye ultimately causes loss of vision, and typically, complete blindness if not discovered and treated in time. For most people, cataracts are just a normal part of getting older that begin to show up after the age of 40. The experts at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa are highly trained in diagnosing cataracts and in supporting our patients in the top treatment methods. Cataracts can form fairly slowly so patients who have the early stages might initially be unaware of it. Reach out to our Tuscaloosa, AL office today to schedule an eye exam, and learn about our advanced options for taking control of cataracts.
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How Are Cataracts Treated?
The most noticeable symptom of cataracts is progressively hazy vision that isn’t helped by glasses or contacts. Many patients start to notice they require brighter light to read. Other symptoms could include reduced night vision and glare or halos around lights. To determine whether someone has a cataract, one of our skilled eye specialists will conduct an in-depth eye exam, which involves several tests to check for cataracts. If we conclude that you have cataracts, a member of our team can explain the potential treatment approaches, which are selected according to the severity of the condition. Early on, a lot of patients only need new prescription lenses. Patients with more advanced cataracts, however, may require a more extensive solution, such as laser or traditional cataract surgery.
What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
The typical first symptom of a cataract is increasingly clouded eyesight that isn’t helped by a person’s current glasses prescription. Most people start to notice they have to use more light in order to read. Further sight-related symptoms can include reduced night vision, a sudden increase in glare or halos, and seeing with an overall yellowish tone. Cataracts don’t cause any pain, and they are typically developing for many years before they result in any vision disturbances. Usually, the disease starts to develop at some point between the ages of 40 – 50, but most patients don’t experience any symptoms before their 60s.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
To find out if someone has a cataract, an ophthalmologist or optometrist has to conduct an in-depth eye exam. Our team at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa is very skilled in the tests done in a comprehensive cataract exam. The most common tests to look for a cataract are all extremely simple, fast, and pain-free.
To start, Dr. Choi will do a simple acuity test. This is generally done with the familiar eye chart. Next, he may conduct a contrast sensitivity test, which is very similar to an acuity test but establishes the patient’s ability to perceive contrast in images. Following the acuity and contrast tests, a slit-lamp exam is often conducted. In a slit-lamp exam, Dr. Choi uses an ophthalmic microscope that directs a very bright but especially thin “slit” of illumination into the eye to check its more outward structures. To complete the tests, he will do the retinal exam and, sometimes, a potential acuity (PAM) exam. Prior to these tests, enlarging the pupils using eye drops is necessary. Enlarging the pupils is critical because it enables the most effective vantage point to check the entire lens for any areas of cataract. If any are detected, then the PAM is often done. A PAM measures a patient’s potential acuity as though the cataract didn't exist. The PAM can be quite important in selecting an IOL if the patient needs to have surgery.
How many people have cataracts?
Prevent Blindness America estimates that more than 22 million people in America over the age of 40 have cataracts.
When should cataracts be removed?
When cataracts begin to affect your vision and quality of life by making work, hobbies, driving, and reading more difficult, it is often time to have them removed. During your examination at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa, we will talk to you about your vision and examine your eyes to help you decide if one of our several cataract treatments is your best option.
What typically causes cataracts?
The majority of cataracts are the result of the natural aging process. However, cataracts can also be caused by trauma or injury to the eye or genetic conditions that may increase the risk of developing cataracts.
What can I do to prevent cataracts or keep them from getting worse?
- Wear sunglasses or limit exposure to UV radiation
- Get regular eye exams
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Don't smoke
- Properly monitor and treat diabetes
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
Is it better to have cataract surgery early on?
When you are diagnosed with cataracts, and they are affecting your vision, delaying treatment isn't a good choice. Often, cataracts can worsen without treatment and, in rare cases, result in blindness.
Clear Vision After Cataracts
If you have noticed changes to your vision or if it has been a while since your last eye exam, we invite you to schedule an appointment at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa. If you are over 40 years of age, having comprehensive eye exams every two years is crucial to finding and managing cataracts and a number of other eye conditions. With a proper diagnosis, our extensively skilled team in Tuscaloosa, AL can create an individualized plan to manage your cataracts.
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