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Cataracts - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss, affecting about half of individuals over the age of 70. A cataract is formed when the proteins inside your lens clump together turning the lens from clear to cloudy. For people who have cataracts, it’s as though they are seeing through a fogged-up window making it more difficult to read or drive a car (especially at night). Eyeglasses will not correct the problem. 

Cataracts develop over time. At first, stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with them. But if impaired vision interferes with your daily activities, it’s best to see your eye doctor to get his/her recommendations on surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure.

Picture of a green eyeball.

So what causes cataracts? Certain behaviors can put you at a higher risk for getting one. These include: too much time in the sun without eye protection, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, family history of cataracts, high blood sugar, using steroid medications, eye injury or eye surgery, and exposure to radiation on your upper body.

Cataracts are not painful. You’ll know you need to see your eye doctor if the world just doesn’t look like it used too. You’ll experience things like:

  • Vision problems at night

  • Sensitivity to lights

  • Seeing halos around light sources

  • Double or ghosted vision

  • Colors appearing less bright than they used to

  • Constant changes in your eyeglass prescription

The test for cataracts is very simple and one that you’ve probably had before at your eye specialist appointment without even realizing it. He/she will administer eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and then check your eyes for cataracts and other eye problems.

If cataracts are found to be severe enough, all of our Ophthalmologists at Rochester Eye Associates specialize in cataract surgery here in Rochester, NY. They will remove the clouded lens and replace it with a new, artificial lens (also called an intraocular lens, or IOL). This surgery is very safe with 9 out of 10 people being able to see better afterwards and takes a mere 10-20 minutes.

After surgery you may experience some blurred vision as you heal, although this is fairly rare.You may need to wear a protective eye shield for a brief amount of time to protect your eye. It’s recommended that you don’t drive for up to 24 hours after your cataract surgery. Generally, you should also avoid strenuous activities for a few weeks.

There are however, cases that aren’t far enough along to warrant surgery. You may be able to make small changes to manage your cataracts for the time being. You can:

  • Use brighter lights at home or work

  • Wear anti-glare sunglasses

  • Use magnifying lenses for reading and other activities

  • Get a new prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses.

To keep your eyes healthy, see your eye doctor regularly. At Rochester Eye Associates, we have doctors that specialize in a wide range of eye diseases. We will detect cataracts and other eye problems early and give you the most effective treatment. 


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