What is Cataracts?

Vision loss from cataracts? An IALVS eye doctor can help

Cataracts are a very common age-related condition. In fact, by the time we reach 80 years old, more than half of us will have developed a cataract in at least one eye. Statistics place the number of people in the US with cataracts at over 24 million!

A cataract is an eye disease characterized by the clouding of your eye’s crystalline lens. As a result of this clouding, you may feel like you’re seeing through a fogged-up window. In general, cataracts develop slowly and don’t interfere with your eyesight at the beginning. But eventually, they progress to the point that you will experience vision loss. If you have cataracts and suffer from low vision, an IALVS eye doctor will assess your sight thoroughly to recommend the most useful low vision strategies and aids to help you maximize your remaining vision and optimize your daily activities.

How can customized low vision assistance help with cataracts?

Once cataracts progress significantly, cataract removal surgery is the typical treatment to restore your healthy vision. However, sometimes surgery is not an option because of other health problems or complications. Surgery may also need to be delayed for various reasons. In these cases, seeing through cataracts can be very frustrating. In order to maintain your high level of visual functioning, our IALVS eye doctors can be of great assistance.

Your IALVS eye doctor is trained and experienced in using all the latest technologies for low vision. We can help you to:

  • See your grandchildren’s faces and expressions
  • Read the newspaper or the latest novels
  • View and dial from your smartphone screen
  • Enjoy a movie and all the scenic details on the screen
  • Safely navigate the staircases and hallways of your home

Once you tell us about the daily tasks that you like to do, we will recommend the most suitable low vision devices to restore your independence and quality of life.

Low vision aids that may help with vision loss from cataracts include:

  • Magnifiers: hand-held and mounted versions of magnifiers can be an efficient way to enhance your ability to read
  • Reading glasses: customized high-power lenses can help with reading fine print; an IALVS eye doctor can also instruct you on the best way to position your face when reading
  • Video magnifiers: desktop devices that display highly magnified images on a monitor or computer screen, with the option to adjust magnification, color, and brightness
  • Specialized lighting: often, high illumination is required to see; specially designed lighting for low vision includes adjustable lamps that can be set to avoid reflective surfaces

What causes a cataract?

The lens of your eye is responsible for focusing light that enters, thereby creating clear images on the retina. As a normal part of aging or sometimes from an eye injury, the lenses in your eyes lose flexibility, become less transparent, and grow thicker. Eventually, other factors cause tissues within your lens to break apart and form clumps that cloud small areas of the lens. These cloudy areas are cataracts, and over time, they grow and affect more and more of the lens. Cataracts block the light as it enters your eye, preventing a sharp image from reaching your retina.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

The most common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouded, dim vision
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Need for brighter light to read or do other tasks
  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • A dulling of colors
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Frequent changes in your vision prescription

As the cataract develops and grows larger, vision loss will also increase and cloud more of your lens. Typically, this will make your symptoms more bothersome.

Who is at risk for cataracts?

Everyone can get cataracts, since the changes in eye tissue are a normal part of aging. Some genetic conditions that lead to other health problems, other eye disorders, previous eye surgery, and diabetes can also raise your risk of cataracts.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

A comprehensive eye exam will detect the presence of cataracts. Your eye doctor will check visual acuity, use high-powered magnification to inspect the inner tissues of your eye, and perform a slit-lamp examination that provides a clear, enlarged view of the structures at the front of your eye. A retinal exam will also be done, in which your eye doctor will apply dilating eye drops in order to examine the structures at the back of your eye.

How can an IALVS eye doctor help with cataracts?

Once prescription eyeglasses cannot give you sharp vision, your eye doctor will discuss the option of treatment with cataract removal surgery. However, if you are not a candidate for surgery or if you need to wait until surgery is an appropriate option, your IALVS eye doctor can help you find ways to adapt to vision loss.

Your IALVS eye doctor will match you with the most effective low vision aids to enable you to enjoy an independent lifestyle and do all the tasks you are used to doing. As your cataracts progress and your vision changes, we will monitor your eyesight to ensure that you benefit from the most advanced and useful low vision devices for your personal condition.