A cataract is an opaque film or cloudiness that occurs in the lens within the eye. It may consist of varying size opacities and/or water vacuoles. In general, it is an alteration in the normal lens tissue that reduces its normal high degree of transparency. This, in turn, interferes with the degree and quality of light reaching the retina.
Symptoms of cataract include blurred vision at far and near, poor night vision, glare sensitivity, need for more light to see indoors, distorted lights when viewing at night, and halos around lights.
Risk factors include radiation (sunlight and treatments), smoking, alcohol, medications, and genetics. The main cause of cataract is sunlight radiation. The sunlight tans the lens inside our eye much like it tans our skin. Whereas we get new skin cells on an average of every 26 days, the lenses inside our eyes have to last our entire lives. The energy in the
sunlight, particularly ultra violet radiation, causes the formation of unstable molecules called free radicals. These free radicals change the lens tissue, causing distortion and darkening.
Cataracts can be directly or indirectly affected by medications and diseases. Many medications cause the opening of the eye to enlarge, allowing more harmful light into the eye. Examples are antidepressants, antihistamines, amphetamines, nitroglycerin, and beta-blockers. Other drugs, such as steroids and tamoxifen, can cause cataracts. Some drugs, like diuretics (water pills), cause the tissue to be photosensitized, which results in increased sensitivity to sunlight. Medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and other connective diseases are commonly
associated with cataracts.
Treatment includes eyeglasses, contact lenses, and surgery. New technologies in eyeglasses and contact lenses allow better vision. Ultraviolet radiation filters, nonglare technology, and the correction of higher-order aberrations with wavefront technology can result in better vision through cataract changes. The best preventive treatment for the
progression of cataracts is polarized sunglasses with the addition of an anti-reflection coating on the backs of the lenses. Cataracts are generally not surgically removed until vision cannot be improved to reasonable levels with eyeglasses or contact lenses. The decision for having surgery usually depends on whether you can see well enough to do what you want to do. Phakoemulsification is a surgical technique used to allow small incisions sometimes not requiring any sutures. An artificial lens is implanted that may provide excellent vision without the need for strong glasses or contact lenses.
for good vision is excellent. Cataracts tend to progress at a slow pace and, as a rule, can be monitored on a yearly basis. At the appropriate time we can recommend the best surgeon for your particular type of cataract. For the near future we should monitor your eye health status and cataract development on a regular basis.
Lenses for Patients with Developing Cataracts
Our Optometrist and staff are pleased to be able to provide you the latest technology in eyeglasses. Summarized below are new improvements in technology and the benefits available to you. During the course of your examination we discovered that you are showing cataract changes. Today’s lens technology allows us to prescribe glasses that will slow the development of your cataracts as well as improve your remaining vision. You may recall from the explanation given by the Optometrist that the lens inside the eye tends to become cloudier with age. This prevents the lens from properly focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a loss of vision. The clouding results from chemical changes within the lens. Ultraviolet (UV) light and visible light can cause the lens to “tan,” much like tanning your skin. We replace our skin cells every 26 days, but the lens inside the eye must last throughout our lives.
The lens technology we have prescribed for you will block 100% of the most damaging light in the atmosphere. The tint recommended for you will block from 60% to 85% of the visible light necessary to see during daylight hours. Some tints are prescribed to allow normal color perception, and others are designed to increase contrast. The appropriate tint depends on the extent of your cataract changes and your personal needs. New lens technology also reduces the glare off surfaces such as roadways or reflections off water.
Lenses specifically designed to inhibit the progression of cataracts are manufactured from high-technology polymers, which are the least likely to break in case of an accident. The lens material is lighter, thinner, and the safest available.
The clouding of the lens of the eye causes less light to reach the retina. New lenses allow nearly 10% more light to enter the eye. Thinner lens designs also result in more light reaching your retina. Newer lenses eliminate irritating reflections and improve contrast with high-technology tints and coatings. The additional light, loss of glare, and improved contrast will allow you to read more comfortably and see better when driving at night.
These indoor lenses and sun lenses have properties that will provide you with better vision as well as protect you from the light rays contributing to the cataracts. Remember to wear your special sunglasses during all outdoor activities in the daylight. Try them on cloudy days and you may discover after a minute or so that you will adapt and see well with the
Our doctors and staff will continue to monitor new changes in lens technology that will benefit you. With today’s new lens technology and adherence to your doctor’s prescriptions, you can expect to see well the rest of your life. Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with your vision care. We look forward to seeing you in the future.