Questions about Cataract Eye Surgery
The following information answers questions that we frequently hear from our patients about cataract eye surgery. For more information, please contact our New Hampshire cataract surgeons.
- How do I know if I have cataracts?
- Are there different kinds of cataracts?
- What causes cataracts?
- Do only older people get cataracts?
- Is cataract surgery dangerous to your eyes?
- Is cataract surgery done with a laser?
- How much time must go by before the second eye is treated?
- I wear contact lenses. Can I wear them to your office for cataract surgery?
How do I know if I have cataracts?
At first, it’s hard to tell. You’ll notice some deterioration of your vision, such as more sensitivity to lights at night, colors look less vivid and bright, double vision, or some blurriness. Initially, a new glasses or contact lens prescription might help, but at some point, cataract surgery may become necessary.
Are there different kinds of cataracts?
Yes. Cataract types include:
- Cataracts that affect the center of the lens (nuclear cataracts). A nuclear cataract may at first cause you to become more nearsighted or even experience a temporary improvement in your reading vision. But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and further clouds your vision.
As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of color.
- Cataracts that affect the edges of the lens (cortical cataracts). A cortical cataract begins as whitish, wedge-shaped opacities or streaks on the outer edge of the lens cortex.
As it slowly progresses, the streaks extend to the center and interfere with light passing through the center of the lens. People with cortical cataracts often experience problems with glare.
- Cataracts that affect the back of the lens (posterior subcapsular cataracts). A posterior subcapsular cataract starts as a small, opaque area that usually forms near the back of the lens, right in the path of light on its way to the retina.
A posterior subcapsular cataract often interferes with your reading vision, reduces your vision in bright light, and causes glare or halos around lights at night.
What causes cataracts?
The causes cannot be clearly defined bu studies suggest some risk factors include:
- Prolonged use of steroids
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight)
- Exposure to cosmic radiation
- Over-consumption of alcohol
- Prolonged exposure to air pollution
- Exposure to lead
Do only older people get cataracts?
No. Advancing age is certainly a predisposing factor, and by the age of 75 or so, nearly everyone is said to have at least the beginning of a cataract. However, some babies are born with congenital cataracts, some apparently inherited, and others, are the result of the mother having an infectious disease while pregnant, such as chickenpox or German measles. Young healthy patients can also develop cataracts as stated above.
Is cataract surgery dangerous to your eyes?
All surgery carries some risk, and cataract surgery is no exception. However, cataract eye surgery is the most commonly performed procedure in the United States., and if you choose an experienced cataract eye surgeon, risk can be minimal. Our New Hampshire cataract surgery experts help to minimize risk with their experience and bring a superior level of patient comfort to the overall cataract surgery experience.
Is cataract surgery done with a laser?
Most commonly the lens is removed with a technique called “phacoemulsification” using a combination of ultrasound and aspiration to remove the cloudy lens rather than a laser. Also, after some cataract surgeries, the membrane that encloses the eye’s lens may become cloudy after the lens is removed. In these cases, a laser can be used to make a clear opening in that membrane, so that vision isn’t impeded.
How much time must go by before the second eye is treated?
The second surgery can be performed one day after the first surgery, but we prefer to wait at least a week to ensure the first operative eye is healing well.
I wear contact lenses. Can I wear them to your office for cataract surgery?
We will be taking a number of measurements of your eyes. These measurements enable us to measure your unique eye and its characteristics. Contacts specifically alter the shape of your corneal curvature thus altering these measurements. It is important that patients follow these guidelines for contact lens removal prior to their diagnostic evaluation and surgery:
- Soft contact lenses – remove them 5 to 7 days prior to your appointment
- Toric or Soft Astigmatism correcting lenses- remove them for 2 weeks prior to your appointment
- Hard contact lenses -remove them about 8 weeks prior to your appointment.