Our friends at Prevent Blindness have set aside the month of June as Cataract Awareness Month. The goal every June is to educate the public and raise awareness of the symptoms, causes, and treatments for cataracts. The main objective of Cataract Awareness Month is to motivate and empower those afflicted by this disease to come forward and get much-needed medical attention.
Why is it so important that we devote an entire month to this cause? Simply put, cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. And it’s important to know that, while we cannot yet prevent cataracts, we can lower the risk of developing cataracts by changing our diet and adopting healthy habits. More on that in a bit!
Before we dig into some helpful tips for lowering your risk of cataracts, let’s talk about some cataract facts.
9 Interesting Facts about Cataracts
Fact 1: Cataracts Are Not Growths
Contrary to what many people think, cataracts don’t grow on your lens or eye. Instead, they are caused by irreversible, structural changes to the focusing lens in your eye. This lens is made up of proteins that start to break down and clump together as you age. These clumps of protein make your lens cloudy and yellow, which affects your ability to see.
Cataracts are irreversible but they can be corrected by removing the old lens and replacing it with an artificial one called an intraocular lens (IOL). At nJoy Vision, we offer several different IOL options based on your lifestyle and individual vision needs.
Fact 2: Cataracts Can’t Be Dissolved
Cataracts are a permanent clouding of the eye’s natural lens and cannot be cleared or dissolved with any type of eye drop or laser surgery. Laser cataract surgery refers to the technology used to remove the natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens.
Fact 3: Lifestyle Changes Will Not Reverse Cataracts
Once your lens becomes clouded from the formation of old proteins and dead cells, you cannot reverse it. However, living an active, healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet could slow the formation of cataracts.
Fact 4: Cataracts Aren’t Just for the Elderly
Although most cataracts are age-related, they are the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. and can occur at any age. Eye injuries, surgeries for other eye problems (like glaucoma), and certain steroid medications can cause changes to your eyes that lead to cataracts. Babies can also be born with a type of cataract called congenital cataracts.
Fact 5: Cataracts Are Not Caused by Too Much Reading or Close Work
Cataracts are not a result of activities or habits. When cataracts develop, you may have trouble reading or performing activities that require up-close detail and precision. However, those activities do not cause your lens to degrade.
Fact 6: Cataract Surgery Is Not Dangerous
Cataract surgery boasts a 99% success rate and is one of the most common and safest surgeries to undergo. In fact, with the development of advanced laser technology like the revolutionary CATALYS® Precision Laser System used at nJoy Vision, cataract surgery has never been better at restoring and even correcting vision problems.
Fact 7: Cataracts Will Not Return After Surgery
Once your cloudy, natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, cataracts will not develop on the new lens. It is possible to develop cloudy vision over time if the lens capsule membrane around the IOL is damaged or deteriorates with age. This problem, called posterior capsular opacification (PCO), can be corrected with a quick, painless laser treatment called YAG laser capsulotomy.
Fact 8: Not All Cataracts Need to be Removed
If your eye doctor determines you have a cataract, you may not need surgery if you still see well. Cataracts develop and advance over time. As long as you still see well and your day-to-day activities are not impacted, you can choose to delay cataract surgery or may never need it.
Fact 9: Cataracts Are Not Inevitable
While cataracts are a common occurrence as people age, growing older does not mean you will develop cataracts. As we mentioned earlier in this post, you can help lower your risk of developing cataracts by implementing healthy lifestyle habits that promote eye health.
Exercising regularly and enjoying a diet rich in the vitamins and nutrients your eyes need are at the top of that list, but protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays is one of the easiest ways to preserve eye health.
It’s no guarantee but if you eat right, get outside, wear UV-blocking sunglasses, and get an annual eye exam, you may never have to deal with cataracts.
Cataract Diagnosis and Treatment Options
OK. Be honest. How many of those cataract facts did you already know? Don’t give yourself a hard time about it. Even though cataracts are so common, studies show that most Americans don’t know much about them. The good news is now that you know the facts, diagnosis and treatment at nJoy Vision is just a phone call away.
If you find yourself experiencing any of the following cataract symptoms, do your eyes a favor and schedule an appointment with your eye doctor or one of the nJoy Vision preferred doctors in your area.
- Blurred or foggy vision
- Double vision
- Seeing halos around objects
- Changes in color vision
- Problems with glare and bright lights
- Trouble seeing at night
- Needing more light to read or do other kinds of work
- Needing to change eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions frequently
These symptoms don’t automatically mean you are developing cataracts, but early detection is key when it comes to taking care of the issue.
Once you and your doctor have confirmed the presence of cataracts you have a few options when it comes to procedures:
This procedure is also known as “small incision cataract surgery” or “phaco.” A small incision is made on the side of the cornea – the transparent dome-shaped membrane covering the pupil. The surgeon then inserts a small ultrasound emitter to soften and the lens, which is then removed through suction.
Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE)
During an ECCE procedure, the doctor makes a long cut on the side of the cornea and removes the lens, leaving the elastic capsule covering the lens.
Refractive Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (ReLACS)
This is the most advanced method of removing cataracts and the procedure we perform at nJoy Vision.
During laser-assisted cataract surgery at nJoy Vision, our surgeons use the revolutionary CATATLYS® Precision Laser System and femtosecond laser technology to perform the most challenging steps of manual or traditional cataract surgery.
We use these advanced laser technologies to produce sophisticated 3D imaging of the eye, make precise corneal incisions, and perform anterior capsulotomy and lens fragmentation with unparalleled accuracy and predictability.
In addition to removing cataracts, this technology introduces multiple options for vision correction that can eliminate the need for corrective glasses depending on the type of IOL that is implanted.
Our premium IOL options can be customized to suit different conditions and lifestyle needs. These options include:
- The Light Adjustable Lens™ that can be customized after cataract surgery.
- Multifocal IOLs that correct both distance and near vision.
- Extended Depth of Focus IOLs that use wavefront-shaping technology to provide a broader range of vision.
- Accommodating IOLs that allow the eye to “zoom focus” from near to far.
- Toric IOLs that correct astigmatism and improve distance vision.
The surgical incision from laser cataract surgery does not require stitching and heals itself in a couple of days. Most people see better just one to three days after surgery, but it usually takes a few weeks to see as clearly as possible and experience the full benefits of laser cataract surgery.
Cataracts, Meet Your Match!
If you know you have cataracts, or if your symptoms suggest they are developing, give nJoy Vision a call to schedule a cataract consultation and learn more about cataract surgery options in Oklahoma City.