A cataract is a painless, cloudy area in the lens of the eye that blocks the passage of light to the retina. The retina is the nerve layer at the back of the eye. The nerve cells in the retina detect light entering the eye and send nerve signals to the brain about what the eye sees. Because cataracts block this light, they can cause vision problems.
Aging and exposure to sunlight can cause cataracts. Changes in your eyes are often a normal part of aging. But the changes do not always lead to cataracts.
Cataracts can also happen after an eye injury, as a result of eye disease, after you use certain medicines, or as a result of health problems such as diabetes.
Sometimes children are born with cataracts.
Cataracts can affect your vision.
- You may have cloudy, fuzzy, or foggy vision.
- You may see glare from lamps or the sun.
- You may have trouble driving at night because of glare from car headlights.
- You may need frequent changes to your eyeglasses prescription.
- You may get double vision in one eye.
Your near vision may improve for a short time if you get a cataract. This temporary improvement is called second sight.
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Your eye doctor can find out if you have cataracts by doing a physical exam and by asking questions about your symptoms and past health. You may need other tests to make sure you have a cataract or to rule out other conditions that may be causing vision problems.
Surgery can be performed by an ophthalmologist to remove cataracts. For most adults, surgery is only needed when vision loss caused by a cataract affects their quality of life.
There are a number of things you can do that may help you manage your vision problems. Many people get along very well with the help of eyeglasses, contacts, or other vision aids. Make a yearly eye doctor appointment to keep your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription up to date. Also make sure you have plenty of lighting in your home. You may be able to avoid or delay surgery.
Whether you need cataract surgery depends on how much of a problem the cataract causes for daily activities like driving and reading. Surgery is almost always by your choice (elective) and can be scheduled with your eye doctor when it is convenient. For people who decide to have surgery, the surgery usually works very well.
You have the option to chose a Multifocal IOL which allows you to see far and near.
AcrySof IQ ReSTOR (Alcon): Two basic multifocal versions of the AcrySof IQ ReSTOR IOL now are available in the United States. The original non-aspheric version, approved in March 2005, provides a diffractive design, which changes the way light is directed depending on where it falls on the IOL’s different zones. This lets your eye achieve focus at multiple distances.
In late 2008, a newer version of the ReSTOR lens was approved. This version has a different near power zone of +3.00 diopters, which enables better vision at intermediate distances. The original version has a +4.00 diopter power that provides better near vision, but with less emphasis on intermediate vision.
Tecnis (AMO): Like the IQ ReSTOR, the Tecnis uses a diffractive lens design to direct light in different ways — depending on different zones in the lens. Clinical trial results leading to FDA approval in January 2009 demonstrated that having a Tecnis multifocal lens implanted in each eye resulted in 20/25 or better distance vision and 20/32 or better near vision for 93 percent of study participants.
Astigmatism Correction: In addition you can chose a lens that will correct for astigmatism during surgery called Toric IOLs.