One of the biggest complaints that people have about their vision is that it becomes cloudy, blurry, or generally different than it once was. In many cases, this is due to a cataract that has been slowly developing for several years. As a board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Claudio Contreras has extensive experience diagnosing and treating patients with cataracts. In most cases, patients can expect very positive results with cataract surgery.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye that helps focus light onto the back part of the eye, called the retina. The lens is located inside the eye, behind the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. When the lens becomes cloudy, it cannot pass light to the retina clearly. The result can be blurry vision, dimming, glare, or double vision. Sometimes the symptoms are worse at night.
Some people may confuse a cataract with a pterygium, a pinkish, triangular-shaped tissue growth of conjunctiva on the cornea. While they both may impair vision, their causes are different. In addition, pterygium grows on the cornea while cataracts develop inside the eye.
Cataracts become more common with age. The lens is made up mostly of protein and water. As we age, the proteins harden and the lens becomes cloudy. This is a cataract. People who are more at risk of developing cataracts are those with diabetes or eye trauma, people who smoke, or those who have had long-term, prolonged exposure to sunlight.
A cataract needs to be surgically removed when it affects everyday activities such as driving, reading, or watching television. Cataract removal is one of the most common surgeries in the United States. It also is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery, and it is normally performed on an outpatient basis. During the operation, the cloudy lens is removed and a new artificial lens is implanted in the eye that can restore eyesight. In about 90 percent of cases, people who have cataract surgery have better vision afterward.
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