Posted by: Focal Point Vision in Blog

There are countless ways your vision can be negatively affected. Injuries and various conditions can impact your eyesight, so how do you know when cataracts are to blame? 

The first step is to visit your eye doctor, but there are other signs that may point to cataracts. Keep reading to learn how you can know if you have cataracts!

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a condition where the lens of the eye becomes clouded or opaque. The lens is normally clear and transparent, allowing light to pass through and focus on the retina. 

With cataracts, proteins in the lens start to clump together and cause the lens to become clouded. This prevents light from properly passing through and focusing on the retina.

Cataracts are typically caused by aging, though there are other potential causes as well. As people get older, the proteins in the lens begin to break down and clump together. 

This protein clumping causes the clouding and opacity characteristic of cataracts. The clumps continue to grow over time, causing the cataract to become larger and darker in color, often taking on a yellow or brown tint.

Eventually, if left untreated, the cataract can overtake the entire lens and significantly impair vision. Cataract surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens is the primary treatment to restore vision loss from cataracts.

How Long Does it Take For a Cataract to Mature?

The timeline of cataract development varies from person to person, but it is typically very slow. In fact, the process is so gradual that people can have cataracts for many years and not realize it. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Cataracts?

As the cataract grows and matures, you will begin to experience various symptoms. Depending on what kind of cataract you have, you may experience some symptoms but not others.  

Some symptoms may appear more strongly, as well.

Symptoms include:

  • Cloudy vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Especially poor vision at night 
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Faded colors
  • Frequent changes to eyeglass prescription
  • Distorted vision

What Are the Different Kinds of Cataracts?

Cataracts form in the lens, but they don’t always grow the same way. If the cataract begins in the center of the lens and grows out, which is most common, it is called a nuclear sclerotic cataract

If it begins around the edges of the lens and grows inwards like the spokes on a bike wheel, it is a cortical cataract. If it grows from the back of the lens, it is a posterior subcapsular cataract  

What Happens During A Cataract Evaluation?

If you are experiencing cataract symptoms, you will need to attend a cataract evaluation. This allows your eye doctor to confirm the presence of cataracts so you can take the next steps. 

A cataract evaluation often begins with some general vision tests. A visual acuity test, which uses the recognizable eye chart in your eye doctor’s office, gives your eye doctor a baseline to start with. 

You will also likely go through a slit-lamp examination. This allows your eye doctor to look closely inside your eyes to see the underlying structure and look for signs of a cataract. 

How Are Cataracts Treated?

Cataracts are very common, but they can also be treated easily and effectively. The only way to get rid of them is with cataract surgery. 

Since cataracts grow inside the lens, using the proteins that the lens is made of, they cannot be separated from the lens. Instead, the entire lens has to be extracted. 

Your sight relies on having a lens, so an artificial one is used to replace it. This synthetic lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL).

What Happens During Cataract Surgery?

In order to extract the lens, your cataract surgeon will first make a small incision in the cornea. Then, they will break down the lens where the cataract is into tiny pieces.

This is usually done using a device that emits high-frequency sound next to the lens. The lens safely breaks apart, and the pieces are removed carefully with suction.

The final step is to replace the lens. The IOL of your choice is placed into the same space that the natural lens occupies. 

The tiny incision in your cornea will heal naturally during your recovery, with no stitches required.

How Do I Know What IOLs To Choose?

There are many different kinds of IOLs to choose from before you begin your cataract surgery. Which IOL is right for you will depend on your budget and vision preferences. 

The least expensive option is using monofocal IOLs. These effectively replace your natural lens but only allow you to focus at one distance. You’ll need to supplement them with glasses or contacts. 

Premium IOLs can focus on near, far, and intermediary distances, depending on the brand. They cost more, but many agree that the benefits outweigh the price increase. 

If you are experiencing cataract symptoms, book a cataract evaluation with Focal Point Vision in Austin, TX. Find out if you need surgery what IOL is best for your lifestyle, and start planning ahead!