Cataracts? Know Your Options

May 18, 2016

When it comes to your health, it’s important to work with your doctor to find the best treatment options available. Understanding your cataracts, and your treatment options, is something you should discuss in detail with your doctor. Below is a summary of the different symptoms of cataracts and the different treatments available.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts occur when the internal lens of the eye becomes clouded. They most often occur with age but also, can affect younger people. As they progress, cataracts block light and affect vision. Eventually, they may cause blindness.

In a healthy eye, light passes through the lens and the lens focuses the light into a clear image on the retina. In an eye with cataracts, the light passes through the cloudy lens, and that cloudy lens creates a blurry image on the retina. This is often the first, and most common symptom of cataracts.

Other symptoms of cataracts may follow and greatly impede vision. Glare or sensitivity to light make it difficult to see both indoors and outdoors. Diplopia, or double vision, will occur even with only one eye open. The ability to see colors may lesson as hues fade or take on a brown tone. Finally, you may find that your eyeglass or contact lens prescription changes frequently, as your eyes slowly degenerate.

Regular eye exams will help your eye doctor detect and diagnose these symptoms. The doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes. During an exam, they may be able to see cataract progression and recommend treatment.

Treatment Options

In general, cataract surgery is used to treat cataracts. During this process, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. It’s usually an outpatient procedure that noticeably improves sight. Also, if both eyes have cataracts, each eye will be treated on a different day. Your treatment options should be discussed with your doctor to ensure the best care.

Extracapsular Cataract Extraction

Most of the time, cataract surgery is treated through extracapsular cataract extraction. During this procedure, the doctor makes a small incision into the eye and removes the lens. After this, an artificial lens is placed. Some patients can actually get vision-correcting lenses that remove the need for glasses after surgery. This is an option to discuss with your doctor during your pre-surgery consultation.

Additionally, Piedmont Eye offers advanced surgical procedures that create a better experience. Their process creates smaller incisions and relies on foldable implants. They prefer to use a blade-free laser method that improves precision and results. If a patient’s cataracts are not eligible for laser, then the traditional method is also available.

Before your surgery, a doctor may be able to select a lens that lessens or completely removes your need for glasses after surgery. Multi-focal implants, and accommodative lens implant, or implant for astigmatism are all options that treat other vision ailments and help improve vision after surgery.

Intracapsular Cataract Extraction

Intracapsular Cataract Extraction is rarely performed because it’s an older technique and carries greater risk. This has been replaced by the better, newer procedures above. During this surgery, the entire natural lens of the eye is removed, including the capsule surrounding the lens. The incision is much larger and requires sutures to close. This option is not recommended by doctors because lower risk options are available.

No Treatment

Some patients choose to wait for their vision to further decline before choosing surgery. This is a personal choice based on their lifestyle needs. However, at some point, corrective lenses may not be enough to prevent blindness. Although you cannot naturally reverse cataracts, there are some preventative measures that can help from developing or worsening symptoms. Suggestions include, quit smoking, wear sunglasses, keep diabetes in check, and limit alcohol consumption. Before you decide to delay or decline treatment, discuss your vision needs with your doctor.

All of the options above are options for treating cataracts. However, the doctors at Piedmont Eye Center most commonly recommended blade-free cataract removal for all patients who qualify. This method allows for a precise, less invasive treatment, and creates superior results. This is why understanding your cataracts and the treatment options should be discussed with your doctor shortly after diagnosing. Also, regular eye exams will help with early detection and diagnosis. When it comes to your eyes, you can work with your doctor to ensure your best possible eye health.

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