Cataract: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Surgery

Here at The Kraff Eye Institute, we offer patients across the Chicago area access to cutting-edge surgery and treatment, including cataract surgery. We provide accurate diagnosis and top-notch cataract treatment and surgery that helps restore eye health and impaired vision.

We also think it’s important that every single one of our patients is informed about their condition. We’ll explain, in detail, your eye health and our proposed treatment, but for now let’s take a look at the basics of cataract treatment, cataract symptoms, and cataract causes.

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is defined by a clouding in the lens of the eye which distorts and blurs vision. Most of the time they are a slow-developing condition that may occur in one eye or both. In most instances, cataracts develop as a result of age, but there are lots of other cataract causes that we’ll go into later in this article.

What is cataract

There are several kinds of cataracts, too. A “nuclear cataract” is easily confused with near-sightedness, but over time creates a yellow fog over the eye.

A “cortical cataract” starts as an off-white fog on the edge of the eye and moves towards the middle.

A “posterior subcapsular cataract” affects reading vision and forms towards the back of the eye, while a “congenital cataract” is a condition people are born with.

Cataracts affect more people than you may think. The risk of developing cataracts increases with age and typically starts around age 40, with a majority of people suffering from the condition by the age of 80.

People of all races and ethnic backgrounds experience cataracts. Some races and ethnicities are a little more susceptible earlier than others.

By 2050, the number of people suffering from cataract in the United States is expected to double and reach roughly 50 million.

Cataract Symptoms

The most obvious cataract symptoms are distortion of vision from the cloudiness of the natural lens. Not only does the person suffering from it experience vision impairment, but others may notice a clouding in the lens of the eye. Those who suffer from it describe feeling as though they are looking through a foggy lens.

Other symptoms include a particular difficulty seeing at night, or noticing halos around light sources. The halos are typically more visible at night or in low light, also. One eye may also produce double vision, which is a bizarre experience for the sufferer.

As a result of the clouded vision, people with cataracts need more light to read and see normally.

Cataract Causes

While most people either develop cataracts with age or are born with them, they can also be caused by a variety of external factors. Damage and trauma is a common way in which people develop eye conditions like cataracts, but overexposure to UV light from the sun can cause damage too.

Metabolic conditions, such as diabetes can also accelerate cataract formation and it is advised that you avoid the use of corticosteroid medication over long periods. Excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and smoking can also be found to be contributing factors for earlier cataract formation.

How to Prevent a Cataract

As we’ve already discussed, cataracts are mostly caused by the natural deterioration of the lens as we age. For that reason, cataract prevention can be quite difficult once a person reaches a certain age.

However, as there are several other possible causes for cataracts, there are a few steps that can be made to prevent cataracts.
Eye exam

Want to know how to prevent cataract problems? The best move to make is adopting a healthy lifestyle. Don’t smoke and eat healthily is a great place to start. Get all the vitamins and minerals you need and your body can continue repairing and regenerating cells effectively as you age.

Wearing sunglasses outdoors may help, also, as it reduces the damaging effect of ultraviolet light on the eyes.

Regular eye examinations are a great preventative measure, too. When a doctor finds a cataract early, the surgery may be simpler and the condition can be caught before it progresses too far.

Cataract Treatment

Cataract treatment, by the very nature of the condition, is invasive. This means a professional and experienced doctor must perform surgery to get inside of the eye and remove the clouded lens causing the problem.

There are three types kinds of treatment, and these include intracapsular surgery, extracapsular surgery, and phacoemulsification.

Let’s start with phacoemulsification, or “Phaco” as it is commonly known. This is the most common type of procedure comprising over 99% of treatments for cataracts surgeries today. It is very quick, taking less than thirty minutes to complete. A tiny surgical incision is made on the cornea that allows an ultrasonic probe to enter the eye and break up the lens. Using sound waves, the lens is broken up and then suctioned out. Then, an “intraocular lens implant” is inserted into the eye to allow you to see clearly.

Extracapsular surgery is used when a cataract is quite advanced. A larger incision is made around the cornea and a surgeon physically removes the lens rather than breaking it up. Finally, there is intracapsular surgery, which is less common but still sometimes required. It requires a much larger incision to allow the lens and surrounding capsule to be removed from the eye. The intraocular lens is then put in front of the iris.

Cataract Surgery, the Risks, and Recovery

Cataract surgery

While this surgery has been refined over many years and is extremely safe, there are of course cataract surgery risks you should know about. These risks are minimized by our doctors performing a thorough examination and background check to ensure you have no health conditions that could cause complications.

One complication that a small number of cataract surgery patients report is ocular hypertension and inflammation. Some even experience swelling at the back of the eye, though this can be treated and is rare.

Thankfully, most people don’t experience these problems and cataract surgery recovery typically takes between four and six weeks. Typically vision is very functional the day after the procedure.

Are You Ready to Speak to an Expert?

Cataracts are quite common and there’s no need to suffer in silence. If you’re struggling with your vision, if you know you have cataracts or if you need help determining the cause of your impairment, come to Chicago’s eye experts.

You can even discover success stories from previous patients and learn more about our services in our video library.

At The Kraff Eye Institute, our doctors boast decades of experience. We excel in delivering patient care that is second to none. Please visit us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call on (312) 444 1111. The initial consultation is billed through your major medical insurance so please check to see if Dr. Colman Kraff is in your network. We look forward to hearing from you!

While many businesses here in the loop are boarded up, we want to reassure our patientsthat we are still open and committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for you to be seen in. Please call our office at 312-444-1111 to schedule an appointment.
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