Offered at our Lincoln, NE location
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are described as the build up of proteins that ultimately result in the clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye causing visual problems. This build up is due mainly to the fact that the cells of the lens of the eye are produced in its outer surface, leaving the older cells compacted at the center. Cataracts make up a condition that makes it difficult for a patient to carry on normal activities that require good visual acuity. When the lens of the eyes become cloudy, they will not able to properly bend the light rays that pass through them, and this causes a certain degree of vision loss, which prevents the patient from the focusing on what he is looking at.
What causes cataracts?
Dr. Dean Forgey has often advised his patients in Lincoln, NE that cataracts are normally caused by a number of factors.
- Congenital cataracts are present in infants that are born with the condition and are believed to be a result of a developmental defect, injury, or the occurrence of an infection before the child was even born. Some children develop congenital cataracts gradually over the course of their childhood.
- Age-related cataracts develop as the patient ages and is perhaps the most common condition that leads to the development of cataracts
- Secondary cataracts are mainly the result of an underlying medical condition that affects the patient’s vision. Usually, these conditions include diabetes, exposure to radiation, exposure to ultraviolet light, the use of diuretics or corticosteroids, as well as the use of toxic substances.
- Traumatic cataracts are caused by a direct injury to the patient’s eye that damages or compromises the lenses.
- Additional factors that may cause cataracts include pollution, excessive consumption of alcohol, and cigarette smoking.
How do I know if I have cataracts?
The symptoms that signify the presence of cataracts usually develop slowly over an extended period of time. Some of the telltale signs that the patient may be developing cataracts are a noticeable decline in the patient’s visual acuity that usually includes abnormally fogged, cloudy, or blurred vision. The distortion of color perception, double vision, changes in contact lens or eyeglass prescriptions, increasing difficulty with night vision, and light sensitivity are also some of the signs that a patient may already be suffering from cataracts.
How are cataracts treated?
The best way to treat cataracts once they have developed is to surgically remove the affected eye lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens. It is best to consider cataract surgery when the condition has progressed to a point when the cataracts are already beginning to interfere with the patient’s ability to carry out normal activities. Cataract surgery has been the most effective way of managing the condition by far, and has been shown to successfully restore, or improve, the vision of countless patients affected with the condition each year.
What should I expect during cataract surgery?
When a patient undergoes cataract surgery, the main purpose is to remove the clouded lens of the affected eye and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens that is clear and has most of the qualities of the eye’s natural lens. There are different surgical methods that are employed to achieve the desired results.
- Phacoemulsification is a procedure that makes use of ultrasound energy to basically break up the damaged lens so that it can be extracted. The doctor creates a small incision on the cornea where a very thin probe can be inserted and used to transmit the ultrasound waves into the area of the lens where the cataract has developed. The probe is also fitted with a vacuum attachment that suctions the fragments of the lens out of the eye as they are broken up. An artificial intraocular lens will then be inserted in its place.
- Extracapsular cataract extraction requires the doctor to make a fairly larger incision than the ones usually used for phacoemulsification. This larger incision allows surgeons to manually remove the affected lens from the eye, and it also makes it easier for them to insert the artificial lens in place. Because this procedure requires a larger incision on the cornea, it consequently requires stitches to close up the incision to allow the cornea to heal over the newly installed intraocular lens.
What happens after cataract surgery?
Immediately after cataract surgery, patients will be instructed to avoid rubbing or touching the treated eye to prevent complications. To avoid this, patients may be required to wear protective eye shield during the recovery period. Prescription eye drops will also be given to help reduce inflammation and prevent infection.