A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Cloudy vision? You may have a cataract

Woman reading a book outside - do you need cataract surgery?

Cataracts can get worse with time and cause other eye problems like glaucoma. You and your doctor should discuss when surgery is right.

You’re noticing changes in your vision lately that are affecting your everyday life.

The cause? It may be cataracts.

A normal lens of an eye is clear but as a cataract develops, the lens becomes cloudy, resulting in blurred vision and glare.

Cataracts are usually painless and occur in older adults, although infants may be born with them.

Cataracts and daily activities

And, cataracts can affect your daily activities, said Dr. Yan Guo, a Marshfield Clinic ophthalmologist. “For example, people with a cataract have problems driving at night because of glare from oncoming headlights. They also have difficulty watching TV or reading a magazine.”

Cataracts can get worse with time and could cause other eye problems like glaucoma, so you and your eye doctor should discuss when surgery is right.

“Now, people have higher demand for clear vision,” Guo said. “I have a patient who enjoys his vision after cataract surgery. He is a golfer. His vision wasn’t too bad prior to surgery, but he was not able to see the ball’s landing spot because it was so far away. He also wasn’t able to see the green grass clearly. Now his vision is sharp and clear, so he can see every detail from far away and the vivid colors are back.”

A painless procedure

Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial lens in the eye. It’s an outpatient procedure in which adults are usually awake. Numbing eye drops or gel help prevent pain and a sedative medication is given to help the patient relax.

The surgery is performed using sound waves to break up the cataract into small pieces. They are then suctioned out through a very small suture-less incision. After the cataract is removed, a new clear lens is placed into the eye.

If both eyes have cataracts, a second surgery is performed after at least two weeks.

Glasses: Yes or no

After cataract surgery, you may not need glasses for distance vision but you will need reading glasses.

Talk to your ophthalmologist about putting in a premium lens such as a toric lens or multifocal lens to minimize the need for glasses. If you are near-sighted, you and your ophthalmologist can discuss mini-monovision, an alternative to reading glasses that corrects one eye for distance and leaves the other eye slightly nearsighted.

“If you have glaucoma and are on eye drops, you and your eye doctor can discuss a combined cataract surgery and a tiny stent implant to reduce pressure in the eye,” Guo added.

11 Comments
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