A cataract is a common condition that causes a clouding of the eye's natural lens, and affects millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 65. Cloudiness develops as a result of a buildup of protein in the lens.
Cataracts cause a progressive, painless loss of vision. The lens clouds naturally as we age, causing people over the age of 65 to see a gradual reduction of vision. The exact cause of cataracts is unknown, although it may be a result of injury, certain medications, illnesses (such as diabetes), prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and smoking.
Your doctor may perform a series of tests in order to diagnose a cataract. A dilated eye exam will be performed to test the vision and to examine the condition of the lens and other parts of the eye.
Patients with cataracts often do not experience any symptoms when the condition first develops. Cataracts will continue to progress with no apparent pain, although patients may experience:
It is possible to have a cataract and not notice it. If the cataract is small, it may not disturb your vision or cause any symptoms at all. Even a dense cataract may not be noticed if the other eye is providing clear vision. In fact, you might not be aware of the blurred vision unless you happened to cover the normal eye. Unless it is very dense, a cataract is not visible to the naked eye of an observer. Once a cataract begins, no one can predict how fast it will develop. Generally, the clouding of the lens progresses slowly and gradually over a period of months or years. It is not known why some cataracts progress rapidly and others progress slowly.
Over the past decade there have been revolutionary changes in the way cataracts are removed. This has made the operation even more successful. Patients can generally expect outpatient cataract surgery with little to no discomfort, performed under local anesthesia. At the Eye Surgery Institute we do a no-stitch technique cataract surgery, but we do put in safety stitch because we found that this lowers the risk of endophthalmitis (which can cause loss of vision). Also, the incision is stronger in case of an accidental blow to the eye. After surgery most people should be able to return to their normal lifestyle shortly after the operation.
In recent years, new and better techniques have been developed for correcting the optical problems caused by having a cataract removed. One of them, the intraocular lens implant, is a tiny piece of plastic that is a permanent replacement for your natural lens. You never take it out, and it requires no care. You cannot feel it or see it and it is not noticed by others.
At present, the only effective treatment is surgical removal of the cloudy lens. In no-stitch surgery, a cataract is removed by making a small incision in the front of the eye. The incision is tunnel-like, and self seals when the surgery is completed, reducing recovery time. A highly sophisticated ultrasound instrument is inserted into the eye that breaks up the opaque lens into tiny fragments that are then suctioned out through the instrument's hollow tubing.
The success of cataract surgery in restoring sight is about 95%. It is one of the most effective and safest operations performed today. The high success rate is due to advances in microscope technique, high tech instruments, ultra fine needles and use of intraocular lenses.
The Eye Surgery Institute has been serving Dearborn and the surrounding community for over 60 years.