St. Clair Checkup: Clearing Up Cataracts


cataract is the clouding of the natural lens within the eye. Virtually all of us will get cataracts as we age. Cataract formation is usually gradual and vision changes can be subtle. Common symptoms include blurred or dim vision, sensitivity to light with glare, seeing halos, difficulty with night vision and needing brighter light for reading. Often, the prescription of your glasses change frequently, with diminishing improvements with each change.

Ophthalmologists recommend a comprehensive eye exam to have your visual acuity measured and your pupils dilated. A special microscope called a slit lamp is used to view and grade your cataract. You will be evaluated for other eye diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, as well.

The decision to proceed with cataract surgery is based on how much the cataract interferes with your vision and daily activities. There is usually no rush, but the surgery can become more urgent if, for example, you fail to have adequate vision for driving.

Fortunately, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective procedures. Typically, it is an outpatient procedure done under light intravenous (IV) sedation. Through microscopic incisions, your cloudy natural lens is emulsified with ultrasonic energy and is replaced with a clear artificial lens. This artificial lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). Your vision should significantly improve over the next few days as long as you use your prescribed post-surgical eye drops.

An ophthalmologist will meet with you for a cataract evaluation, to learn your individual visual needs, answer your questions and guide you toward the most appropriate option for which you may qualify. An ophthalmologist can also offer “dropless” cataract surgery if you have difficulty instilling eye drops. Typically, regardless of which option you choose, the surgery takes minutes, you leave without a stitch or patch, and the improvement is life-changing.

For more information about cataracts and cataract surgery, please call 412.572.6121.