A cataract is a cloudiness that occurs in the lens that is inside the eye. The lens is about the size and consistency of a cooked lima bean. It helps to focus light on the retina. The lens grows slowly over time like fingernails grow. However, the lens is in a confined space and therefore becomes denser as it grows. As it becomes more dense light does not pass through it as well and vision becomes blurred and dim. Looking through cataracts is like wearing smudged sunglasses all the time.
Since aging is the main cause of cataracts, everyone develops cataracts over time much like grey hair. How many 90 year olds do you know that don’t have grey hair?! We will all get cataracts and just like grey hair the pattern and speed of cataracts that we each develop can run in our family. By age 40 nearly everyone has at least the trace beginnings of lens clouding. However, cataracts don’t normally start to affect vision until our 50’s or sometimes even later.
There can be other reasons for cataracts to develop. Some are present at birth, some are caused by trauma or eye surgery, and some are caused by medications. There is no definitively proven action that can be taken to prevent or reduce the progression of cataracts except to stop having birthdays…and that’s no fun. Cataract surgery is the treatment for cataracts.
Intraocular Lens (IOL) After Cataract Surgery
The lens is a structure in the front of the eye that has the shape and structure of a peanut M&M. The lens helps to focus light on the retina to make the clear images we see. The center of the lens is hard like the nut (called “nucleus”), the outer covering is soft like the chocolate (called “cortex”), and the whole thing is covered by a very thin membrane-like the candy coating (called “capsular bag”).
Image this M&M being a glass of clear water when we are young. As we age, each year a drop of milk is added to the water. With time, the lens becomes yellow or whitish through and through like a glass of milk.
When we removed cataracts, we make a hole in the front of the capsule (candy coating), the nucleus (nut) and cortex (chocolate) are removed, and the capsular bag is left in place. The new, clear, artificial lens is inserted into the capsular bag which holds it in place.
If your vision is getting blurry and it cannot be satisfactorily be improved with glasses or contacts, you may have a cataract that is ready to be removed. Book your cataract surgery consultation with Dr. Mark Vital in Houston today.