What is a cataract and what can be done to fix it?

Lens proteins develop in the eye and play a major role in focusing light onto the retina. This process allows the retina to “see” clear images, which can then be transferred to the visual center of the brain through the optic nerve. Cataract is a natural maturation of the lens in the eye. This process in some individuals may progress at a faster rate, due to oxidative stress from the environment and their genetic makeup.

Symptoms of the cataract include blurring of the vision and glare with night driving. The symptoms usually worsen as the cataract matures. Some patients may even develop glaucoma as a result of the cataract. Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the eye pressure increases and can cause permanent blindness if not corrected. Patients may or may not have symptoms of this dangerous disease. A thorough eye exam can be used to assess a person’s risk for this condition.

Cataract surgery has advanced a great deal through the years. In the past there was a higher risk associated with the procedure because of rudimentary instrumentation and techniques. Doctors would prefer for the cataract to become “ripe” before even considering surgical removal. The techniques and equipment have advanced a great deal over the years. Today cataract surgery can be performed easily. There is even a Laser that can be used to help dissolve the cataract to allow for more easy removal.

When the cataract is removed an implant is placed in the eye. This allows the eye to focus light and provide the best vision. The implant is specific to each eye. A patient’s eyeglass prescription is factored into the implant with the use of special computer programs. Advanced implants and techniques can be used to correct for underlying astigmatism as well. New implants are available which help patients be free from needing eyeglasses after surgery.

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