According to the National Eye Institute, cataract surgery–which removes and replaces a clouded eye lens with a clear, synthetic lens–is one of the most common and safest surgeries performed in the United States. About 95 percent of people who have the procedure see better.
A cataract is a clouding or haziness of the lens of the eye–the part that helps focus light on the retina where images are formed. When the lens becomes cloudy, these images are less clear.
There’s no way to prevent cataracts. They are part of the aging process caused by a natural buildup of protein in the lens of the eye. Cataracts are the most common source of vision loss in people over the age of 40. In fact, NEI states that 68.3 percent of Americans 80 and older had cataracts in 2010.
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Light/glare sensitivity
- Experiencing colors as faded
- Seeing "halos" surrounding lights
- Double vision in one eye
- Frequent changes in prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses
Cataract surgery is recommended when cataracts affect everyday vision while reading, watching TV, driving, etc. It is an outpatient procedure that typically takes less than 30 minutes and is generally performed with minimal sedation. Depending on the lens choice, eyeglasses may no longer be necessary.
In most cataract procedures, a high-frequency ultrasound device is used to break up a cloudy lens into tiny pieces that are removed with gentle suction. In most cases, a clear, intraocular lens is then inserted where the natural lens used to be.
As the eye heals, some eye redness or blurred vision may occur, but vision generally improves within a few days. However, if another eye condition affects your vision, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, you might not have good vision even after cataract surgery.
According to a 2013 AARP telephone survey, four out of five people say cataract surgery was easier than expected. It is proven to be safe and effective, with a low risk of serious complications, though it’s important to have this discussion with your surgeon for an assessment of your specific risks.
Ophthalmologists at Oregon Eye Specialists are some of the most experienced cataract surgeons in the Northwest. Surgery is performed in a comfortable eye surgery facility with the latest equipment and an experienced, caring staff. Learn more about cataracts and how you can seek treatment by visiting oregoneyes.net or by calling 503-935-5580.