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Nov 10, 2021

How Cataracts will affect your daily life.

What are cataracts? 

Cataracts are a condition affecting the lens of the eye in which there is clouding. This clouding can make it harder for those affected to see details, drive, read, and can be accompanied by light sensitivity.

What causes cataracts? 

Cataracts most often develop in older individuals with the aging of the eye, or those who have had an injury to the lens. The proteins and fibers inside the eye’s lens begin to break down, which in turn clouds the eye. 

Certain genetic disorders can predispose some individuals to develop cataracts, as can the presence of other issues with the eye. Cataracts can also be a long-term complication of diabetes or extended use of steroids.

Cataracts develop when the lens, which is located behind the iris and focuses the light that enters the eye, becomes less flexible and less transparent. A cataract scatters the light entering the eye, blocks it, which thus keeps a sharp image from reaching the retina. 

How do you know if you or a loved one develop cataracts? 

Those suffering from cataracts will notice several symptoms, which will worsen over time. These can include clouded or blurry vision, or sometimes dimmed vision. Difficulty seeing at night is also typical of cataracts, as is the need to have brighter lighting in lower light situations to be able to see details. Patients will also commonly see “halos” around lights, and may even have double vision in one of their eyes. Most likely, their prescription will change frequently, and they will experience sensitivity to bright light and or glare. 

One thing to note is that cataracts while tending to develop in each eye, may not always progress in each eye at the same rate. 

To check whether or not you have developed cataracts and to monitor the rate of progression, your doctor will perform several tests. During these, your doctor will assess your ability to read a series of letters, look at the internal structure of your eye under magnification, examine your retina, and look at the fluid pressure in your eye. 

What type of cataracts are there? 

Nuclear Cataracts affect the center of the lens of the eye, and may cause nearsightedness, but will eventually turn the lens yellow and make it difficult to distinguish between different colors. 

Cortical cataracts affect the edges of the lens, and will first show up as streaks or wedges on the edge of one’s vision. The streaks will slowly continue to form and move into the center of the eye. 

Posterior subcapsular cataracts start as a small clouded area in the back of the lens, which is where light is directed into the eye. This type usually makes it harder to read, reduces vision in bright circumstances, and causes halos around lights at night. This progresses more quickly than the other types. 

Those with congenital cataracts are born with them or develop them during the early stages of life. These are often either genetic or causes by trauma or infection. 

Advanced Cataract

Who is likely to develop cataracts? 

Risk factors for cataracts include increasing age, diabetes, prolonged or excessive sunlight exposure, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, eye injury or inflammation, prolonged use of steroids, and excessive alcohol use.  

What are the treatment options? 

The most common treatment for advanced cataracts is surgery. Surgery is often suggested by your doctor when cataracts begin to affect your daily life. The surgery for cataracts is a relatively simple one and is also low risk. Cataracts themselves do not harm the eye, and therefore there is no risk of delaying surgery until it starts affecting daily activities such as driving at night, seeing during the day without sunglasses, or reading. 

The surgery for cataracts involves the removal of the cloudy lens, and replacement with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens. This is generally an outpatient procedure, and a local anesthetic is used while the patient remains awake. 

What can Eye Centers of Tennessee offer that others can’t? 

At ECOTN, we make use of state-of-the-art technology that measures your eye to ensure the proper fit of your new lens. During surgery, a small hole will be made in the cornea, the lens is broken up using ultrasound and then removed through the hole. 

The new implanted lens has several options for focal distances and at ECOTN we are happy to be able to offer many options. Most importantly, we are able to offer a special lens that is able to focus at multiple ranges. We were one of the first surgery centers to offer this lens and have been doing so since the 1990s. The multi-focus lenses often allow their recipients to go forward from surgery without needing glasses for most activities. 

Also, the technology behind these lenses changes and upgrades year to year. ECOTN is often the first practice to be utilized for new innovation and technology for cataract lenses.
Just this year, major healthcare companies have used our network of practices to offer treatments and procedures not available to other providers in the area.
Our goal is to increase access to the best technology in healthcare and our patients always benefit from this mission.

What will having cataracts change about my life? 

Advanced cataracts can make it difficult to function in everyday life. The need to constantly have sunglasses, an extra light, or a magnifying glass at hand can be cumbersome. Night driving can become unsafe, and it can be hard to see details such as faces, signs, screens, and books. 

By choosing to have surgery to remove cataracts, and specifically choosing a multi-focus lens, you will increase your safety while driving or performing other activities. Additionally, you will eliminate the need to choose either near or far focusing lenses for each eye.

If you have noticed your eyesight becoming more blurred, darker, or light-sensitive, make an appointment with your ECOTN office today to check for cataracts and discuss treatment options, and begin to improve your quality of sight. 

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