A cataract occurs when the eye's natural lens is clouded. When the lens becomes opaque, vision is reduced and colors appear faded. People with cataract often experience difficulty seeing in low light conditions or in situations with glare. The following illustration shows how cataract might affect your vision.
Vision affected by cataract
Most cataracts occur due to the natural aging process of the lens, typically after age 60. The normally clear lens will progressively become cloudy due to a build-up of protein molecules. Since this process is very slow many people will not notice that a cataract has been developing for several months or even years. Other causes of cataract may include physical trauma to the eye, or in rare cases, cataract can occur in babies or children though the causes are not well understood. As the lens becomes increasingly cloudy, an untreated cataract can leads to blindness.
Schematic representation of normal vision
Schematic representation of cataract affected vision
Currently there is no pharmacological way to treat a cataract. Once the cataract has progressed to the point where vision is impaired, surgery is recommended. Fortunately, with the advent of modern technology cataracts are routinely treated and vision restored in tens of thousands of patients every year. The operation is safe and effective and involves exchanging the cloudy lens for a clear artificial lens through a surgical procedure that lasts less than 30 minutes. The latest innovation is the use of a femtosecond laser. This high precision instrument enhances the reliability of surgical outcomes. Learn more about Z-Cataract here.
Most cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and in rare cases patients may stay one night in the hospital. After receiving the treatment, many patients report how clear and colorful the world looks again. Another advantage to surgery is that with lens replacement, nearsightedness can be fixed by implanting perfect lens power for the patient. If standard artificial lenses are used, however, reading glasses may still be required. Your ophthalmologist will speak with you about what the best options may be for your particular situation.