A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens that leads to worsening vision, and potentially, total blindness if not found soon enough and treated properly. In the majority of people, cataracts are a normal part of the aging process as they start to develop after the age of 40. Around this time of age, the proteins that make up the lens of the eye typically start to break down and/or lump together. The condition progressively worsens and blocks light from focusing on the retina the way it should. The disease can progress very slowly so people with the onset stages usually aren't aware of their condition. Cataracts are a major reason why undergoing comprehensive eye exams no less than every other year is imperative to your general eye health. Seasoned ophthalmologist Dr. James Croley and his staff at Cataract & Refractive Institute of Florida are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating cataracts. Reach out to our Cape Coral, FL office today to schedule a comprehensive exam and find out how we can help you manage your symptoms.
Symptoms of Cataracts
The main symptom of cataracts is progressively hazy vision that isn’t corrected by an individual’s current lens prescription. Often, people start to realize that they require more light to read. Further sight-related symptoms could include restricted night vision, a sudden increase in glare or halos, and eyesight with a general brownish tone. Cataracts aren’t physically uncomfortable and are usually present for many years before they lead to any vision impairment. In most cases, the condition begins to develop somewhere between the ages of 40 – 50, but many patients don’t experience any symptoms until reaching their 60s.
Causes of cataracts
A cataract is a natural part of the age-related, degeneration of the proteins that comprise the eye's lens. This breakdown takes place in everyone; however, there are additional behavioral and medical issues that could impact the process. For example, behavioral issues, tobacco use, drinking too much or too often, and extended exposure to the sun have been related to cataracts, as well as some health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Other factors that can speed up the condition include:
- Degenerative myopia
- Use of prescription steroids
- Trauma to the eye
- An inherited predisposition for cataracts
- Certain types of eye surgery
Cataracts Explained Diagnosis
To find out if someone has a cataract, an ophthalmologist has to perform a comprehensive eye exam. Our team at Cataract & Refractive Institute of Florida is very knowledgeable about the tests involved in a thorough cataract exam. The most frequently used tests to look for cataracts are all very simple, fast, and cause little to no discomfort.
To begin, Dr. Croley will do a standard acuity test. This is generally done with a traditional eye chart. After that, he may conduct a contrast sensitivity test. This is very similar to an acuity test except it establishes how easily the patient is able to perceive contrast in images. After these tests, a slit-lamp exam is often performed. During a slit-lamp exam, Dr. Croley uses a special microscope that emits a powerful but especially thin “slit” of light into the eye to observe its more outward structures. Prior to these tests, enlarging the pupils with eye drops is required. Expanding the pupils is key because cataracts exist inside the lens and the expansion is utilized to check the whole lens and identify any evidence of cataracts.
Cataracts Explained Treatment Options
Once Dr. Croley gives a diagnosis of cataracts, we will begin to explain the various methods of treatment. The potential treatments for cataracts depend on the progression of the disease. When cataracts are detected early enough, many patients only need new prescription lenses. Women and men whose cataracts have advanced, however, usually require a more extensive solution, like laser or traditional cataract surgery. Dr. Croley and his wonderful team are dedicated to giving all of our patients the best available care. Depending on the progression of cataracts, we sometimes treat patients in our Cape Coral, FL practice or recommend they see a trusted specialist.
Clear Vision After Cataracts
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or haven’t gone in for a comprehensive eye exam in over a year, you should schedule an appointment at the Cataract & Refractive Institute of Florida. Especially for those who are 40 years of age or more, getting comprehensive eye exams every two years is vital to finding and treating cataracts and other concerning eye conditions. With accurate diagnosis, we can establish a unique plan to manage your condition. Contact any of our Southwest Florida locations in Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, or Bonita Springs.