Cataract surgery is not only a safe procedure in most instances, it is also the most common procedure performed by ophthalmic surgeons. In the United States, about 3.5 million surgeries are performed each year. Worldwide, that figure is more than 20 million surgeries. According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), the overall success rate is about 98 percent or higher.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is an eye disease that causes a person’s vision to decline when the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque. When the lens is clouded, the eye’s ability to focus light on the back of the retina becomes compromised, leading to distorted vision. Cataracts normally come on gradually, but in some cases they can develop rapidly. While they can affect both eyes, they may do so at different rates. What causes cataracts is not precisely known, but most of them appear to be caused by changes in the protein structure in a person’s natural lens. They are quite common in elderly patients. But in some cases, as a result of hereditary enzyme defects or genetic diseases, they can appear at birth or in young children as well.
Diagnosing a Cataract
Cataracts may cause a variety of changes in a person’s eyesight including: blurred vision, difficulty with glare, dulled color vision, or an increase in nearsightedness that may result in frequent changes in eyeglasses prescriptions. Double vision may also occur in some cases. Because changes are gradual, there’s a good chance a cataract may not be diagnosed until a patient gets a thorough eye exam.
Abnormalities in the lens of the eye can be seen by an ophthalmologist or optometrist using a specialized viewing instrument. If you notice cataract symptoms in your eyes, it is essential to get a comprehensive eye exam, because what you are experiencing may not be a cataract, but the symptoms of something more serious such as the effects of diabetes, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.
As part of a cataract diagnosis, your eye doctor will be able to prescribe the best course of treatment, including surgery, as well as being able to tell you how much vision recovery you can expect following a cataract procedure.
Boulder Eyes serves patients in Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder and other nearby Colorado communities.