News Releases

March 13, 2017
Media contact: Leigh DeLozier, (404) 778-3711, leigh.delozier@emory.edu

March is Cataract Awareness Month

Get Answers to 5 Common Cataract Questions

(ATLANTA) The lens of the eye works like a camera to focus light images on the retina at the back of the eye. Those images are sent to the brain, which allows you to know what you’re seeing. When the lens becomes cloudy and rigid, it can keep images from reaching the retina and decrease your vision.

This clouding of the natural lens is called a cataract. As the cataract worsens, you and your doctor might decide that you need surgery to remove the cataract and improve your vision.

Human Eye illustration 1. What causes cataracts?

Cataracts can develop from normal aging, an eye injury, or as a complication of medications such as steroids. Being exposed to cigarette smoke, air pollution, heavy drinking and diabetes might also increase the risk of developing cataracts, according to Soroosh Behshad, MD, MPH, a cornea, cataract and refractive surgery physician with Emory Eye Center.

2. What are the symptoms of cataracts?

A cataract isn’t painful and can develop so slowly over time that you might not notice it for a while. Early changes may not disturb your vision. However, as the cataract grows, you might notice symptoms such as:

• Decreased vision

• Blurred or double vision

• Poor depth perception

• Difficulty reading or distinguishing colors

• Difficulty seeing at night

• Seeing halos around bright lights

• Frequent prescription changes for glasses.

3. How likely am I  to get cataracts?

Cataracts are very common; in fact, more than 50 percent of people age 80 or older either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

4. What happens during cataract surgery?

The lens is right behind the iris, or the colored part of your eye. During cataract surgery, the surgeon uses a micro-incisional blade (instead of a scalpel) or a laser to make a small incision in the front surface of the eye. Then the surgeon makes an opening into the lens capsule with either a laser or forcep. A laser or ultrasonic device is used to break the lens into smaller pieces so it can be removed.

Once the entire lens is removed, the surgeon replaces it with a clear implant called an intraocular lens, or IOL. Several types of lenses are available; your surgeon will discuss these with you beforehand.

At Emory Eye Center, our surgeons use a femtosecond laser to perform the procedure. A 3-D image guides the laser to make precise, bladeless incisions that are customized for each patient. The laser also makes cataract removal easier by softening and fragmenting the lens.

In addition, the femotosecond laser can be used to treat corneal astigmatism, which can make your vision blurry in addition to the cataract. No stitches are needed when a laser is used.

5. What is recovery like?

No two cases are exactly the same, but patients often see well enough to drive the day after surgery. Most patients can resume normal daily activities like reading and watching TV by the next day; they often return to work in less than a week.

The day after the procedure, you’ll have a follow-up visit with your surgeon to check your vision. You’ll discuss any other issues related to recovery at that point.  

 

To schedule an eye exam with one of our doctors, call 404-778-2020.

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The Emory Eye Center has long been a clinical, scientific and academic leader for eye care. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and other eye care professionals treat individuals of all ages who need care ranging from general examinations to treatment of complex disorders. Scientists at Emory Eye Center are researching the causes of and improved treatments for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, genetic eye diseases and more. Innovative treatments, groundbreaking research and personalized care have earned Emory Eye Center the respect of patients and providers alike. To learn more, visit www.eyecenter.emory.edu.

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