WHAT ARE CATARACTS?
A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. In normal vision, light enters the eye, passing through the lens and is focused on the retina at the back of the eye. When the lens is cloudy, light is blocked and the image that reaches the retina is out of focus, causing blurred or distorted vision.
The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil. It works much like a camera lens. It focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up-close and far away. The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and allows light to pass through it.
As we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract. Over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes, but it cannot spread from one eye to the other.
Symptoms of cataracts include, glare, dull colors, cloudy and blurred vision
- Clumps of protein reduce the sharpness of the image reaching the retina. When the protein clumps up, it clouds the lens and reduces the light that reaches the retina. The clouding may become severe enough to cause blurred vision. Cataracts tend to “grow” slowly, so vision gets worse gradually.
- The clear lens slowly changes to a yellowish/brownish color, adding a brownish tint to vision. At first, the amount of tinting may be small and may not cause a vision problem. Over time, increased tinting may make it more difficult to read and perform other routine activities. This gradual change in the amount of tinting does not affect the sharpness of the image transmitted to the retina.
- Secondary cataract: Cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems such as glaucoma. Cataracts also can develop in people who have other health problems such as diabetes. Cataracts have also been linked to prolonged steroid use.
- Traumatic cataract: Cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.
- Congenital cataract: Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.
- Radiation cataract: Cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.
The risk of cataracts increases as you get older. Other risk factors for cataracts include:
- Certain diseases such as diabetes
- Personal behavior such as smoking and alcohol use
- The environment such as prolonged exposure to sunlight
If you are experiencing vision changes, schedule an eye exam to find out if cataracts are developing. We perform laser cataract surgery in the Olympia area to help patients restore clear vision.
LASER CATARACT SURGERY
Clarus now offers laser cataract surgery with all of our PREMIUM OPTIONS to help you see more clearly and brilliantly.
During a brief outpatient procedure at our Lacey surgery center, your experienced Clarus surgeon will use the state-of-the-art Catalys® femtosecond laser to bring a more precise and customized approach to your cataract surgery. The Catalys® Laser system analyzes the internal structures of your eye during your procedure and provides computer controlled precision for several key steps of cataract surgery. The laser replaces the need for traditional hand-held blades which improves consistency with your surgery. Under your surgeon’s guidance, the Catalys® laser performs these delicate maneuvers with real-time 3D images and with incredible accuracy.
THE BENEFITS OF CATALYS
After the cataract is removed, our surgeons will insert a replacement intraocular lens (IOL) in your eye to correct your vision. Many patients choose to have bifocal implants placed, reducing your need for glasses to see near, far and often in-between.
Surgery is done on one eye at a time using topical or local anesthesia. Recovery is fast, most patients resume daily activities within hours. In fact, a majority of patients see well enough to drive to the post-operative check with their surgeon the very next day.
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