Cataracts, which affect more than 20 million men and women in the United States alone, represent the single most common cause of blindness in adults over the age of 40. Caused by a slow deterioration in the proteins that make up the eye’s lens, cataracts produce clouded areas in the field of vision which can, over time, grow to the point that they completely obstruct a person’s eyesight. Every year, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal treats hundreds of men and women for cataracts at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons and has shared some of the most frequently asked cataracts questions regarding this common cause of visual impairment.
Anyone can experience short periods of blurry or cloudy vision, particularly if you are experiencing eye fatigue or if the eyelids are inflamed. It’s when those cloudy areas persist and appear to slowly increase in size over time that may indicate the result of cataracts. In some cases, the entire lens can gradually develop a yellowish or brownish tint, distorting color perception and low-light visual acuity. Those suffering from cataracts frequently perceive halos around light sources, like the halos that appear around oncoming headlights when seen through a dirty windshield, as well.
How Can I Prevent Cataracts from Forming?
A number of different factors have been shown to either cause cataracts or to make their appearance more likely. Those who have a history of cigarette smoking or who regularly expose their eyes to excessive amounts of ultraviolet radiation (in the form of sunlight) tend to have a higher likelihood of developing cataracts. Not unlike diabetic retinopathy, the formation of cataracts has also been linked to diabetes, so maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise program may also help keep your eyes cataract free.
If I Have Cataracts, How Can They Be Treated?
In the early stages, the vision obstruction caused by cataracts may not even be noticeable, and so vision can usually be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, or anti-glare sunglasses. Once the clouding of the lens begins to interfere with everyday activities, however, intraocular lens replacement, or laser cataract surgery, may be necessary to preserve clear vision. Dr. Segal uses the LenSx® laser (the newest and most advanced technology available) to create a small incision in the side of the cornea through which the damaged lens can be removed. Then an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL, is inserted into the lens capsule where it becomes a permanent part of the eye.
If you have any other questions about laser cataract surgery, or would like to schedule a comprehensive medical eye examination, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to make an appointment. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more to keep your vision healthy.