What To Expect When You Have Cataracts

Did you know that June is Cataract Awareness Month? Although June is still a few months away, at Diagnostic Eye Center we feel strongly that cataract awareness is important all year round!

Many people don’t know what cataracts are or how cataract surgery works. If you or a loved one have cataracts, you are probably curious to learn more about this common eye condition. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts and what to expect when you have them!

What is a cataract?

normal picture of cat vs blurry picture of cat showing effects of cataract

A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and difficult to see through. This is because of the gradual build-up of proteins on the lens of the eye.

Over time, the proteins in the lens start to clump together. This causes visual distortion, vision loss, and other debilitating symptoms.

Cataracts can often take years or even decades to progress. You may not even realize you have a cataract when it first begins to develop.

What are the common signs and symptoms of cataracts?

blurry picture of kids playing soccer

Without regular eye exams, many people don’t realize they have cataracts until vision loss has already occurred.

When it comes to cataracts, it’s important to be aware and realize what the signs are, even if you don’t have a cataract yet. Common signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty driving, especially at night
  • Trouble completing tasks that are detail-oriented, like reading or sewing
  • Seeing things with a yellow or brown tint
  • Colors looking more faded than before
  • Requiring frequent new prescriptions for your glasses or contacts
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Needing more light to complete tasks

As cataracts can take years to develop and mature, many people start developing them in their forties or fifties. Cataracts aren’t a problem until they start affecting your quality of life.

If you find it harder than usual to complete everyday tasks, it may be time to consider cataract surgery.

When do I need cataract surgery?

woman reading newspaper

Although the only way to treat cataracts is with cataract surgery, it doesn’t mean you need the procedure right away. Most surgeons recommend waiting to get cataract surgery until cataracts impact your life.

The answer to when to get cataract surgery is individual and depends on the patient. Because of this, regular eye exams with your eye doctor are highly recommended.

Having an eye exam allows your eye doctor to thoroughly examine your eyes from front to back. If you already have a cataract, an eye exam will also give your doctor the opportunity to track its progression.

If your cataract is still developing and you are not dealing with vision loss, your doctor may recommend that you wait to have cataract surgery.

If you have suffered from vision loss and are finding it difficult to complete tasks like laundry, cooking, or even walking outside, your doctor may recommend cataract surgery. The vision loss from cataracts is not permanent, meaning that when you get cataract surgery, you can regain your clear vision.

Laser Cataract Surgery at Diagnostic Eye Center

If you have cataracts and need cataract surgery in Houston, why not visit Diagnostic Eye Center for your procedure? We perform laser cataract surgery using the LenSx Laser, as well as the state-of-the-art ORA system.

Performing laser cataract surgery with the LenSx Laser and the ORA system ensures that our patients achieve optimal results.

The LenSx Laser allows our surgeons to customize your procedure by optimizing astigmatism correction.  It also creates all of the incisions needed for the surgery, creates a precise opening to access the cataract, and breaks the cataract into small pieces to allow for easier removal.  This results in less post-operative inflammation and faster healing for the patient.

Alcon LenSx

Using the ORA system leads to increased accuracy of lens power selection, even more precise astigmatism correction, and better visual outcomes for patients.

The ORA system is especially helpful for patients who have already undergone a refractive procedure like LASIK, PRK, or RK. When you have one of these procedures, it permanently changes the curvature of the cornea.

As a result, this makes it more challenging to place intraocular lenses at the correct power during cataract surgery. Thanks to the ORA system, our surgeons can now take multiple instantaneous measurements. This ensures proper lens selection every time.

How do I choose the right IOL?

Another aspect of cataract surgery involves choosing an IOL. An IOL, or intraocular lens, is a clear artificial lens. The IOL is one of the most important parts of cataract surgery.

Without an IOL, patients cannot achieve clear vision after cataract surgery! The IOL takes over the role that the natural lens once completed before it became too cloudy because of cataracts.

Part of what makes it challenging to choose an IOL is that there are several types available. What kind of IOL you choose should depend on your lifestyle and visual needs after cataract surgery.

The biggest difference to consider is whether you want to wear glasses after cataract surgery. If you don’t mind wearing glasses, you may want a standard IOL, called a monofocal lens.

Monofocal Lens

This lens only focuses on one distance. Monofocal IOLs can only focus up-close, intermediate, or far away. Only one distance can be chosen.

With this IOL, patients have to wear glasses to compensate when they need to see at other distances. Monofocal IOLs are the only IOL that insurance will usually cover, as they are the most basic IOL available.

Multifocal Lens – PanOptix, ReStor, Tecnis

For patients that want to be able to see at all distances without relying on glasses, multifocal IOLs are a great option. Diagnostic Eye Center is happy to offer our patients the revolutionary PanOptix trifocal lens, which is the first of its kind to become FDA approved.

A trifocal lens enables you to see clearly at all distances: near, intermediate, and far away. The PanOptix trifocal lens is also available for patients with astigmatism.

Diagnostic Eye Center also offers our patients the ReStor Multifocal IOL and the Tecnis Multifocal IOL, both of which have different reading powers available so they can be customized for patients with different visual demands.

Extended Depth of Focus – Symfony Lens

Diagnostic Eye Center is proud to offer our patients the Symfony lens, which is an extended depth of focus lens. The Symfony lens aims to provide patients with excellent distance and intermediate vision and reduce dependence on glasses.

Intermediate vision is best for activities like working in front of a computer screen or looking at a smartphone. The Symfony lens also comes in a toric version, meaning patients with astigmatism benefit from this lens as well.

Toric Lens

For patients with large amounts of astigmatism, there are toric lens options available. Astigmatism occurs when the curvature of the cornea or lens is not shaped properly. This causes blurry vision and other visual distortions.

Toric lenses are the only intraocular lens made specifically for patients with astigmatism. Many of the multifocal lens options are also available in toric powers as well.

All multifocal, extended depth of focus, and toric IOLs at Diagnostic Eye Center are considered premium lens options, meaning insurance will not usually cover them. Our cataract surgery counselors will go through all of your options in detail if you’re unsure about these lenses fitting in your budget.

It’s normal to have questions about cataracts or cataract surgery. If you’re wondering if you have a cataract, start by scheduling a comprehensive cataract consultation at Diagnostic Eye Center in Houston, TX today!