What are they?

Cataracts are clouding of the natural lens inside the eye.  You cannot see them since they are hidden behind the coloured part (iris) of your eyes, so having an eye exam is the only way to know whether you have cataracts.

What causes them?

Cataracts develop naturally over time but can happen earlier in life by exposure to sunlight, smoking, certain health conditions like diabetes, and certain medications like steroids.  Do not worry if you are told that you have cataracts developing since everyone will get them eventually, but do try to postpone them for as long as possible by wearing sunglasses, avoiding smoking, and staying in good general health.

How do they affect my eyes?

Cataracts are caused by a clouding in the eye, so your vision might appear "cloudy" where details are not quite as crisp as they once were even while wearing your glasses.  A good comparison on how cataracts affect your eye is to think of your vehicle windshield in the winter - the salt spray ("cataract") makes objects harder to see, headlights look larger and cause more glare, and the whole view becomes progressively worse over time.

What can be done about it?

Cataracts are not fixed with glasses or contact lenses; instead, they are easily removed by surgery.  If cataracts are in both eyes, the worst eye is operated on first and the second cataract is removed after the first eye has healed.  The procedure takes only about 10 to 15 minutes and the results can be dramatic.  Once the cloudy old lens (cataract) is removed and replaced with a clear new lens, you usually see sharper than you have in decades, colours appear more vivid, and only reading glasses or maybe a light bifocal prescription will be needed afterwards, which is great news for patients who have worn heavy glasses for years.  Cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries around, but complications like infection and vision loss are possible, so your cataracts should be adversely affecting your life before you have them removed.  Only one surgery per eye is ever required to remove cataracts since they happen only once in a person's lifetime, but scar tissue can sometimes form afterwards which is easily removed in a surgeon's office with a laser.

Return to Information

 21 Snyder's Road East, Baden, Ontario | (519) 214-2020

 © Copyright 2012 Dr. Sonya Frank, Optometrist