Cataracts are cloudy lenses within our eyes. As we age, the proteins in our lenses become more opaque, causing cloudiness. Cataracts are very common, affecting roughly 60% of people over the age of 60.

Causes of Cataracts

Many develop cataracts gradually due to the natural aging process, but cataracts can develop quicker from exposure to UV light, smoking, diabetes, eye injury, or the use of certain medication, such as steroids.

Eye

What part of our eyesight changes, causing cataracts?

Our natural crystalline lens, comprised mostly of water-soluble protein, is situated behind our iris and pupil. It’s transparent enough to let light easily pass through. When light enters the eye (through the pupil), the lens shortens and lengthens its width, and focuses it onto the retina where a clear, sharp image is recorded. This image is transformed into electrical impulses, which are then transmitted through millions of nerve fibers to the optic nerve.

As we age, lens protein can degrade, reducing the clarity of the image reaching the retina. Over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud the lens further, affecting your vision.

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Types of Cataracts

Nuclear sclerotic cataracts or “Nuclear cataracts”

These occur when the center of the eye (or “nucleus”) goes hard (or “sclerotic”) due to compression of older lens fibers in the nucleus by new fiber formation.

As the nucleus hardens, it becomes cloudy (or “opacifies”) and affects your vision. Nuclear sclerosis is the most common of the three. (Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology)

Cortical cataracts or “White cataracts”

These occur when the outer layer of the lens (or lens cortex) becomes opaque. Over time, the clouding moves from the periphery of the lens cortex to the center, much like the spokes in a wheel.

People with diabetes are at more risk of developing cortical cataracts. (Source: Javadi, M.A., Zarei-Ghanavati, S.)

Posterior subcapsular cataracts

These are caused by opacities in the most posterior cortical layer, directly under the lens capsule. These cataracts are more common in younger age groups and tend to form faster than cortical or nuclear sclerotic cataracts (with symptoms surfacing within a few months of it first beginning). (Source: M. Edward Wilson)

Studies have also found that people taking steroids, have diabetes, or suffer from extreme nearsightedness and/or retinitis pigmentosa, are more prone to developing this type of cataract. (Source: Jobling A., Augusteyn R.C.)

Symptoms of Cataracts

Cataracts can be so gradual that you won’t immediately know there’s a problem. There is no pain associated with cataracts, and your brain has a remarkable ability to adapt to diminishing vision.

If you’re over the age of 50, you might have noticed a few changes in your eyesight in recent years. It may be time for cataract surgery when vision problems begin to interfere with your daily life. Any number of symptoms could dictate the need for cataract surgery, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Glare and halos around lights
  • A feeling of “film” over the eye(s)
  • Difficulty reading in ordinary light
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Difficulty with color and contrast

An ophthalmologist will determine whether you have early signs of cataract development using what’s called a “dilated eye exam.” This is when a special magnifying lens is used to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems.

Once your vision begins to change as a result of developing cataracts, an increase in your glasses prescription can help maintain your vision temporarily. However, because cataracts are a progressive condition, your vision will continue to worsen and your lens becomes more opaque. Eventually glasses or contact lenses will no longer improve sight.

Cataract Surgery

Many patients consider poor vision an inevitable fact of aging. However, cataract eye surgery is a quick procedure, with minimal discomfort and recovery time. With more than 3 million Americans undergoing the procedure each year, cataract surgery is not only the most frequently performed surgery in the United States; the procedure is very successful in restoring vision.

During cataract surgery, a patient’s lens is removed and replaced with a new Intraocular Lens Implant (IOL). The procedure takes 10-12 minutes per eye, and is performed in an outpatient surgery center. Patients typically return to their normal activities the following day.

What to Expect from Cataract Surgery

Any eye surgery can stir up anxiety. But the realities of cataract surgery are sometimes surprising to patients:

  • Surgery is performed one eye at a time, on different days.
  • The eye is numbed with eye drops – no needles!
  • Gentle IV sedation lets patients relax and often doze off for the duration of the surgery.
  • Anesthesia staff monitors your heart rate, breathing, and watches for any discomfort. IV medications are adjusted to help you stay ‘happy’!
  • It usually takes 90 minutes total from walk-in to walk-out.
  • Patients are cleared to leave 10 minutes after the procedure is finished.

The benefits of cataract surgery go beyond improved vision and the ability to return to normal everyday tasks. According to studies done by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, some patients also attain improved sleep, moods and mental capacity.

Take a look at our guide for more information on what to expect before, during and after cataract surgery.

YAG Capsulotomy

Approximately one in four patients who have cataract surgery will develop cloudiness on the back of the newly implanted lens. This generally occurs within 5 years after surgery and there’s no way to predict who will develop this cloudiness. If this issue does happen, our physicians can easily correct the problem with an in-office procedure known as a YAG posterior capsulotomy. A surgical laser is used to create an opening in the clouded capsule, allowing light to pass through to the retina.

To find out everything you’d need to know about cataract surgery, and whether it’s right for you, read through our Comprehensive Guide to Cataract Surgery.

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Precise and Simple Procedures

Why Choose Milan Eye Center

We are proudly labeled as the ‘Doctor’s Doctors’, meaning Milan Eye Center surgeons often find themselves treating and operating on the eyes of other doctors and their families that entrust us with their vision and ocular health.

Our surgeons are Fellowship trained and Board Certified in cataract surgery. Often we take on complex cataract surgeries for patients that have been turned away elsewhere. In addition to our laser cataract surgery offering, our surgeons are always evaluating new technologies in the marketplace for safety and efficacy. Only the best and proven technology is utilized for our patients.

Affordability

Though traditional cataract surgery is a medically covered procedure (bladeless is an additional cost), patients may have a choice of advanced technology IOLs to enhance their visual function after surgery. The different IOL choices have varied out-of-pocket costs. If you’re a candidate for any of the advanced IOLs, your surgeon will discuss their implications.

Milan Eye Center offers zero-down financing options with approved credit through Wells Fargo, CareCredit, and Alphaeon. We also accept all FSA/HSA plans.

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It’s the right time for clearer vision

Our knowledgeable staff is here to answer all your questions about which procedure is best for you, and ensure you have the most comfortable experience possible. Make an appointment today at one of our seven convenient locations.

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