A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a clear window, which has become dirty, frosted, or fogged. Normal aging is the main factor in the formation of cataracts, and the process usually occurs over many years. In some cases it may progress more quickly.
Typical cataract symptoms include blurred vision, glare, loss of color and contrast, loss of depth perception, or frequent changes in glasses. Symptoms are generally mild or intermittent initially, gradually increasing in severity and consistency as the disease progresses.
Cataracts are corrected with surgical replacement of the diseased lens. Surgery becomes appropriate when the lens changes become advanced enough to significantly interfere with your safety and/or your routine activities.
Surgery is generally performed in an outpatient setting, with local anesthesia, and without the need for hospitalization. During surgery, the natural lens is removed and replaced with a medical grade acrylic lens.
Cataract surgery is highly successful, with vision improvement in over 90% of cases. As with any surgical procedure, there are no guarantees, and there is the potential for complications, some severe enough to significantly limit visual function. This is one reason why cataract surgery is generally not performed in the early stages of the disease when symptoms are mild.
There are a number of replacement lens options available. The best choice depends on each individual patient’s needs, and the opportunity to address other conditions during surgery, including astigmatism and reducing the need to wear glasses.