For more than a decade, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal and consultative optometrist Dr. Marc Lay at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons have provided eye care services to patients from all across the southeast, ranging from routine vision and comprehensive medical eye exams to eye disease treatment and LASIK vision correction surgery. In the latest installment of our ongoing blog feature, Ask the Eye Docs, our experienced eye-care specialists will answer questions about eyesight and vision care.
QUESTION: I am afraid that something might be seriously wrong with my eyesight. After retiring from a successful contracting business, I felt like everything seemed extremely dark. Maybe I hadn’t noticed it before, since I usually spent so much time outside, but it is almost as though I am looking at the world through a dirty screen. Colors seem to be muted and everything has a brownish tinge. I have never had any problems with my eyesight before, although I do suffer from adult-onset diabetes and was a smoker for several years. What do you think is wrong with my eyes and is there anything I can do to fix them?
ANSWER: Based on the symptoms and prior medical history that you describe, it sounds as though you may be experiencing the onset of cataracts. Behind the eye’s iris and pupil lies a transparent lens that focuses light on the retina. As we age, the complex protein molecules that make up the lens can begin to break down. This process usually results in cloudy spots that gradually grow larger as time goes by, but cataracts can also manifest as a general brownish haze that affects the entire field of vision. While doctors are unsure why some develop cataracts while others do not, we do know that certain medical conditions, like diabetes or traumatic eye injury, can precipitate their development and that exposure to any form of radiation, even the ultraviolet radiation present in common sunlight, can increase their likelihood. Studies have also found that people who smoke regularly have double the likelihood of developing cataracts when compared with those who do not.
In the early stages, the effects of cataracts on your vision may hardly be noticeable; images may appear slightly cloudy or hazy and colors may no longer appear as bright as they once did. These symptoms can usually be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, or anti-glare sunglasses. Unfortunately, once symptoms begin to appear they will most likely continue to get worse and will eventually have an adverse effect on your daily life. At that point, you may need intraocular lens replacement, otherwise known as laser cataract surgery, to keep your vision clear. During this relatively quick and painless procedure, I use the LenSx® laser (the newest and most advanced technology available for cataract surgery) to remove the damaged lens of the eye so that it can be replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) composed of plastic, acrylic, or silicone. The artificial lens will then become a permanent part of your eye, providing clear, cataract-free vision. In fact, many patients who undergo cataract surgery discover that they no longer need to use their prescription eyeglasses after the procedure.
Cataracts are potentially very serious, but Dr. William Segal at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons has been successfully treating men and women for cataracts for nearly twenty years. If you have any other questions about cataract surgery, or if you are experiencing any problems with your vision and want to schedule either a routine or comprehensive medical eye examination, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to make an appointment. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more to keep your vision healthy.