A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world. In fact, there are more cases of cataracts worldwide than there are of glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy combined, according to Prevent Blindness America (PBA).
Today, cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older. And as the U.S. population ages, more than 30 million Americans are expected to have cataracts by the year 2020, PBA says.
What Causes Cataracts?
The lens inside the eye works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina for clear vision. It also adjusts the eye's focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is mostly made of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it.
But as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract, and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.
No one knows for sure why the eye's lens changes as we age, forming cataracts. But researchers worldwide have identified factors that may cause cataracts or are associated with cataract development. Besides advancing age, cataract risk factors include:
Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources
Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
Previous eye injury or inflammation
Previous eye surgery
Hormone replacement therapy
Significant alcohol consumption
One theory of cataract formation that's gaining favor is that many cataracts are caused by oxidative changes in the human lens. This is supported by nutrition studies that show fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants may help prevent certain types of cataracts (see below).
Cataract Post-Operative care
Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgeries performed in the United States. By 2020, it is estimated the number of people having cataract surgery will double, and by 2030 it will triple. Our role at Massengale Eye Care in comanaging your post-operative care will be of critical importance.
Improved quality of life
Improved color vision and night vision
reduces the risk of falling
What can I expect?
After cataract surgery, expect your vision to begin improving within a few days. Your vision may be blurry at first as your eye heals.
Colors will appear brighter and more normal after your surgery because you are seeing through a new, clear lens.
If you so choose, you will visit Massengale Eye Care the day after your surgery, a week later, and then again after about a month, while we monitor healing.
It is normal to feel itching and a mild discomfort for a couple of days after surgery, after which, most of the discomfort should disappear. Often, complete healing occurs within four weeks.
Normal restrictions for the first week only, include sleeping with an eye shield, and not bending over to lift anything heavy.
You will not need stitches or eye patches.
You will have been prescribed specific eyedrops to prevent infection and reduce inflammation