Cataracts are generally an age-related, degenerative condition that affect millions of people worldwide. It’s estimated that about half of all Americans, in particular, will develop cataracts by the age of 70. With statistics like that, it’s no wonder cataract removal is one of the most common surgical procedures among the medical community today.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are the clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. The lens, located just behind the iris, helps focus light on the back of the retina, which in turn sends the images to the brain. When the proteins in your lenses break down, whether due to injury, certain diseases/medications, or (more commonly) age, it causes the images we see to look blurry, hazy, and much less colorful.
How do I know if I have a cataract?
The 6 common signs cataracts may be present include but are not limited to the following:
- Seeing bright colors as faded or with a yellowish tint
- Blurry vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Double vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Seeing halos around lights
Symptoms may affect one or both eyes for people with cataracts. If you experience any of these symptoms or additional changes to your vision, you should contact your eye doctor as soon as possible to set up an appointment.
How will my doctor screen for cataracts?
Your CCTH Board-Certified Ophthalmologist or Optometrist will evaluate your vision and conduct a thorough screening of the eyes to determine if cataracts are present. Doctors utilize a number of diagnostic tests to do this, which include:
Slit-lamp exam: Your eye doctor will examine your cornea, lens, iris, and the other areas at the front of the eye using a slit lamp. This special microscope uses a bright light that makes it easier to spot abnormalities and conduct a closer examination of the different structures of the front of the eye.
Retina exam: When your eyes are dilated, your doctor can see the back of the eye more clearly. By using the slit lamp, an ophthalmoscope, or both, your ophthalmologist will examine the inside of the eye and look for signs of a cataract. He or she will also check for any signs of glaucoma by examining the retina and optic nerve.
Visual acuity test: Unless you’ve never been to the eye doctor (we hope that’s not the case), you should be somewhat familiar with this test. By using varying sizes of letters, a visual acuity test assesses the sharpness and clarity of your vision. Each eye is tested individually for the ability to see a series of letters, and the vision is then rated according to a fixed standard.
Are you ready for cataract surgery?
Once your doctor determines if you have a cataract and the actual severity of the condition, he or she will develop a plan of action that may include surgical removal of the cataract. The surgery is typically an outpatient procedure that takes less than 30 minutes, during which the surgeon removes the clouded natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). There are different types of IOLs to choose from, including multiple options on the market today. Your doctor will go over all the choices available to you and help you decide the best one for your vision.
In addition to the standard lenses generally covered by Medicare, premium lens options are now available for an additional out-of-pocket expense. Multifocal lenses can help improve distance, intermediate, and near vision, even reducing your need for reading glasses, while toric lenses are specifically designed to correct degrees of astigmatism. Your doctor will go over all the choices available to you and help you decide the best one for your vision.
Overall, cataracts are a very common reason people begin to lose their vision. But the good news is that they can most often be successfully treated. You and your ophthalmologist can discuss your cataract symptoms together and decide whether you’re ready for cataract surgery in East Tennessee.
If you suspect you have cataracts, reach out to us today for an appointment!
Board-certified cataract surgeons Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor, Haun & McMillin are standing by ready to offer the kind of personal care you deserve as well as state-of-the-art technology. With convenient EyeCare Optical offices located in Knoxville, Fountain City, Farragut, Hardin Valley, Maryville, Oak Ridge, and Sevierville, it’s a short drive for most East Tennesseans. For an appointment, call us at (865) 584-0905.