Cataracts are defined as the clouding of lens in your eye. The clear lens of your eye becomes increasingly foggy causing a great deal of issues with eyesight. The effects of cataracts can be felt more strongly at night sometimes due to the poor visibility conditions which prevail already. Cataracts can make simple activities problematic such as reading or distinguishing items and people. While the condition is commonly observed in a single eye, there are instances where both eyes can become affected by cataracts.
There are a variety of contributing factors related to the development of cataracts. Aging and physical injury tend to be the most well-known causes. However, genetic factors such as inherited disorders can also play a role in the formation of cataracts. Diabetes, or a past eye surgery can shed light on the existence of cataracts in an individual as well. Long term use of specific medications can also be cited in cataract patients.
Symptoms commonly associated with cataracts
Symptoms for cataracts can range in severity. However, the associated symptoms are never fatal, but they do require the attention of an ophthalmologist to determine the cause. Some symptoms of cataracts include the need for brighter lighting in your home to perform tasks such as reading and distinguishing items. Cataract patients also report a severe sensitivity to light and glares, often producing a halo effect around street lights. More noticeable symptoms of cataracts include a fading or yellowing of the eye(s) and double vision in a single eye. Another more avoidable symptom is the constant changing of prescription eye glasses or contact lens. These constant changes in vision clarity have been linked to the development of cataracts in some individuals. These symptoms should be discussed with your ophthalmologist to determine if cataract surgery is right for you.
As cataracts develop, the lens of the affected eye becomes less flexible and transparent. This mutation in the shape of eye's lens causes the symptoms of cataracts such as scattering or blocking of light which is transmitted clearly in healthy eyes. As the condition worsens, more of the lens is affected by this clouding effect eventually engulfing the entire eye.
Before undergoing surgery, your ophthalmologist will help you determine which form of cataracts you suffer from. This is done by identifying the underlying conditions and genetic disposition. There are four primary types that need to be identified.
Identification of the type of cataract before surgery
Nuclear cataracts or cataracts that affect the center of the lens have shown an intermittent nature with regard to symptoms. What may normally be considered as nearsightedness is actually an early factor that makes you susceptible to cataracts, even showing an improvement in far-sight capabilities such as reading. The lens will slowly turn yellow or brown over time limiting the person's ability to distinguish colors.
Cortical cataracts exhibit streaks on the outer-edge of the lens cortex. These streaks progress towards the center of the eye affecting the ability for the eye to absorb sunlight for visual interpretation of your surroundings.
Congenital cataracts are those which a person is born with. Often this form of cataract is associated with genetic irregularities leading to their development at birth or early childhood. A few conditions have shown a correlation between cataracts. They include rubella, myotonic dystrophy and even intrauterine infections.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts or cataracts that affect the back of the lens is the last form of cataract condition known. This type of cataract shows similar effects and conditions of its counterparts. However, their progression is shown to be accelerated when compared to other forms. The accelerated development of this form of cataract requires prompt medical attention as the other three forms.
For a successful cataract surgery, the best expert for eye surgery should be the one performing the operation. Hence it is crucial to choose the right one.
You need to look for the best surgeon with plenty of experience to minimize your eyeglass usage after the cataract surgery.
IOLs (intraocular lenses) need to be fitted after the surgery to be free from eyeglasses. Therefore, you must have the right surgeon who knows how to fit the IOLs for satisfactory results.
As far as the cataract surgery is concerned, you and your eye doctor should work together in order to determine the best avenue for optimal results. Both of you'll have to discuss the importance of the surgery and the appropriate time to undergo the procedure to be assured of excellent results. Equip yourself with the following knowledge to ensure you make the right choice in choosing your eye surgeon.
Whom should you consult?
You may consult any of the following health practitioners to diagnose your cataracts:
- The family doctor
- Physical practitioner
Although cataracts may be diagnosed by different health practitioners, an ophthalmologist is the only one who can treat the condition.
Which doctor performs cataract surgery?
The only doctor who can perform a cataract surgery is an ophthalmologist who specializes in complications of the eyes. They also conduct eye surgeries apart from diagnosing and treating eye conditions.
However, you may still visit other eye doctors for eye care such as,
- Opticians- they specialize in fitting contacts and eyeglasses but are not professionals in diagnosing and treating eye conditions.
- Optometrists- these practitioners are licensed to do eye examinations. They are professionals in detecting and treating eye diseases. However, they are not medical practitioners and would only detect cataracts but do not perform the actual surgery.
Things you should consider before settling on an eye surgeon
Qualifications- he or she should have a certificate in ophthalmology which confirms that they have the required training and knowledge to perform the surgery. You should also ensure that the history of their practice is clean.
Experience - an eye doctor with plenty of experience will ensure that there are no complications after the eye surgery.
The number of cataract surgeries performed - you should have a look at the list of successful eye surgeries performed by the doctor to rate him or her.
What they specialize in - a number of eye doctors specialize in certain forms of eye surgery. You should inquire to see if they specialize in cataract surgery. They also need to have a knowledge of the current techniques practiced.
Options in the surgery - an artificial lens replaces the cloudy one during the cataract surgery. There are various forms of it. The current multifocal lenses provide clear vision when driving or reading although the expense may not be compensated by medicare. You should evaluate all these options before settling on an eye doctor.
The last stage in choosing the right surgeon
After you have gone through the aforementioned guidelines, it is time to look for the right surgeon. Your optometrist can recommend someone for you if necessary. You can also speak with individuals who have undergone cataract surgery.
Also, ask the following for referrals:
- Your family doctor
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- Department of Ophthalmology from a medical center near you
- Your insurance company
Book an appointment after selecting the eye surgeon. Be sure to ask appropriate questions like, if there are any fees involved during the process of appointment and how much it may cost.