What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a window that is frosted or "fogged" with steam. It is not a film over the eye. It is not caused by overusing the eyes. It is not a cancer. It is not spread from one eye to the other. It is not a cause of irreversible blindness. The symptoms of cataracts generally include a gradual blurring of vision, the fading of colors, poor night vision, and increased sensitivity to glare.
What causes cataracts?
The most common type of cataract is related simply to the aging of the eye. Other causes may include family history, medical problems such as diabetes, injury to the eye, certain medications (such as steroids), or long-term exposure to sunlight.
Are lasers used to remove cataracts?
No. With existing technology, cataracts can only be removed surgically. Lasers are used for many other purposes in eye care, but not to remove cataracts. Lasers, for example, can easily be used to remove a "secondary membrane" following cataract surgery.
How do I know when it's time to have my cataracts removed?
This is a decision that is reached by mutual agreement between the patient and his/her doctor. The decision is based on the extent to which the cataract is affecting your quality of life. Some people can have pretty serious cataracts that don't bother them very much. Other people can have much less serious cataracts that are causing then significant problems with activities of daily living. It's not generally a good idea to wait until the cataracts are overly "mature". This makes the surgery much more complicated and increases the possibility of complications.
Can I have cataracts in both eyes removed at the same time?
No. It's best to allow one eye to heal and regain its vision before doing surgery on the second eye.
How long does cataract surgery take?
The surgery itself usually takes between 30 to 45 minutes. The entire experience in the Surgicenter, including preparation time and post-op recovery, is generally around two hours.
Can a cataract grow back?
No. However, some people develop a film in their eye called a "secondary membrane". This is easily removed with a laser.
Will I still have to wear glasses after cataract surgery?
There are many variables that determine the answer to this question and there's no definite, single answer that applies to everyone. A lot of people don't need to wear glasses at all after cataract surgery. A lot of others do. This is a question you should ask your doctor at the time you decide to have the surgery.