TREATED IN DULUTH, GA (NORTH OF ATLANTA) at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons
Behind the iris and pupil of the eye lies a flexible, transparent lens, which is responsible for focusing the light that enters the eye onto the retina. It is primarily composed of water mixed with protein molecules that are configured in such a way as to keep the lens transparent. Sometimes, particularly as the eye grows older or when it has been exposed to dangerous environmental factors, these proteins can begin to break down and clump together, forming a cataract that clouds a small area of the lens. Over time, this cataract may gradually grow larger, clouding more of the lens and making it increasingly difficult to for the patient to see.
Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness worldwide for adults over the age of forty, and can develop as a result of a variety of different factors, including family history, ocular diseases, certain medications, congenital defects, smoking, exposure to radiation, and eye injury. Patients who have started to develop cataracts may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- A small cloudy spot in the visual field that gradually grows larger and more distorted
- An overall darkening or brownish tinge in the vision that progressively grows darker
- Sensitivity to light and/or bright halos around light sources and sensitivity to glare
- Changes in color vision, including fading or darkening of colors
- Rapidly worsening vision, including blurred vision and double vision
In some cases, cataracts may only be a minor inconvenience that can be treated by updating your eyeglass prescription. However, they can also progressively grow worse to the point that they seriously impair vision. In those cases, Dr. William Segal will perform cataract surgery, an intraocular lens implant that removes the damaged lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) composed of plastic, acrylic, or silicone.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cataracts
How can I tell if I might be developing cataracts?
Many patients fear that they might be developing cataracts when they experience short periods of blurry or cloudy vision, but these symptoms are more likely a sign of eye fatigue or eyelid inflammation. However, when those cloudy areas persist for long periods of time or appear to slowly increase in size, it may be a sign of cataracts. Those suffering from cataracts often complain of seeing halos around light sources, like the halos that appear around oncoming headlights when seen through a dirty windshield. In some cases, the entire lens can gradually develop a yellowish or brownish tint, distorting color perception and low-light visual acuity. Ultimately, it can be difficult to identify cataracts from only a list of symptoms and sophisticated medical tests may be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. This is why we recommend that patients see us for a comprehensive medical eye exam if they notice any significant changes in their vision.
Is there anything that I can do to reduce my risk for developing cataracts?
The underlying causes of cataracts are still not entirely understood, but a number of different factors have been identified that make their appearance more likely. Those who have a history of cigarette smoking or who regularly expose their eyes to excessive amounts of ultraviolet radiation (in the form of sunlight) tend to have a higher likelihood of developing cataracts. Not unlike retinopathy, another serious eye condition, the formation of cataracts has also been linked to diabetes, so maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise program may also help keep your eyes cataract free.