A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. The lens helps to focus light and images on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the back of the eye. In a healthy eye, the light passes through the clear lens to the retina sending signals to the brain. When the lens is clear the retina receives a sharp, focused image. A clouded lens due to cataracts produces a blurred image. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts build slowly over time, therefore it may take a few years before you notice your vision has become less sharp and clear. Cataracts are so common that by age 80 more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have already had cataract surgery.
A cataract is the result of protein build up in the lens or discoloration of the lens. The lens is primarily composed of water and protein. When a cataract is caused by protein clumps it clouds areas of the lens, reducing the amount of light that reaches the retina. This can start with very small clumps that are not always noticeable and increase in size to completely cover the lens resulting in constant blurred vision. In the case of a cataract due to discoloration the lens slowly changes to a yellow or brown color. Over time the brown tint to the lens can become so prominent, it makes it difficult to read and identify differences in colors such as blues, purples and black. Gradual discoloration does not affect the sharpness of the images.
Although cataracts are most often the natural result of aging, there are other causes. A secondary cataract can form after surgery for other eye conditions such as glaucoma and develop due to health conditions such as diabetes. A traumatic cataract can develop years after an eye injury. In some cases, babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood. Not all cases result in surgery.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Cloudy, foggy or blurry vision
- Colors are no longer vivid, they are dull
- Poor night vision
- Sensitivity to sunlight and glare
- Difficulty driving at night
- Halos appear around lights
- Needing more light to read
- Double vision
- Frequent changes in your glasses prescription
If you or a family member are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with Dr. Ellen Schneider to determine a possible diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with cataracts, the only treatment is surgery. Ellen Schneider MD is a highly skilled cataract surgeon in the Slidell and Metairie, LA area, who performs both traditional cataract surgery and laser cataract surgery.
Traditional cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure that requires a small incision in the eye followed by removal of the cloudy lens. The new intraocular lens is inserted to replace the cloudy lens and the eye is able to heal without stitches. Dr. Ellen Schneider performs traditional cataract surgery in the Slidell and Metairie, LA offices.
Laser cataract surgery is performed using the LenSx Laser which is designed to be more accurate than traditional cataract surgery. Ellen Schneider MD is assisted by the laser during the incision and removal of the cloudy lens. The new intraocular lens is inserted by Dr. Ellen Schneider and the eye heals naturally without stitches.