Frequently Asked Questions: CATARACTS

What Are The Different Types Of Cataract?
Age-related cataract:  Most cataracts are related to aging.

·         Congenital cataract:  Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes.  These cataracts may not affect vision. If they do, they may need to be removed.

·         Secondary cataract: Cataracts are more likely to develop in people who have certain other health problems, such as diabetes. Also, cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.

  •   Traumatic cataract: Cataracts can develop soon after an eye injury, or years later.

Can Cataracts Be Prevented?
Cataracts can be minimized through nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle.  Unfortunately there can be a genetic component which can not be prevented.


What Are Signs/Symptoms Of Cataracts?

Although cataracts usually develop without pain or redness, some indications that a cataract may be forming include:

  • Blurred or hazy vision.
  • The appearance of spots in front of the eyes, or the feeling of having a film over the eyes.
  • A temporary improvement in near vision may also occur and increased sensitivity to glare, especially at night may be experienced.


How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?

A comprehensive eye examination can determine if you have a cataract forming.



How Are Cataracts Treated?

If your cataract develops to a point that your daily activities are affected, you will be referred to an eye surgeon who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataract.  Cataract removal is one of the most common operations performed in the U.S. today. It is also one of the safest and most effective. In about 90 percent of cases, people who have cataract surgery have better vision afterward.



How Is A Cataract Removed?

There are two primary ways to remove a cataract. We can explain the differences and help determine which is best for you:

·         Phacoemulsification, or phaco. Your doctor makes a small incision on the side of the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. The doctor then inserts a tiny probe into the eye. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the cloudy center of the lens so it can be removed by suction. Most cataract surgery today is done by phaco, which is also called small incision cataract surgery.

·         Extracapsular surgery.  Your surgeon makes a slightly longer incision on the side of the cornea and removes the hard center of the lens.  The remainder of the lens is then removed by suction.

In most cataract surgeries, the removed lens is replaced by an This intraocular lens or IOL is used to replace the cataract patient's clouded natural lens.intraocular lens (IOL).  An IOL is a clear, artificial lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye. With an IOL, you'll have improved vision because light will be able to pass through it to the retina.  Also, you won't feel or see the new lens.



Some people cannot have an IOL. They may have problems during surgery, or maybe they have another eye disease. For these people, a soft contact lens may be suggested.  For others, glasses that provide powerful magnification may be better.




What Happens During Surgery?

When you enter the hospital or clinic, you will be given eye drops to dilate the pupil. The area around your eye will be washed and cleansed.

The operation usually lasts less than 1 hour and is almost painless. Many people choose to stay awake during surgery, while others may need to be put to sleep for a short time. If you are awake, you will have an anesthetic to numb the nerves in and around your eye.

After the operation, a patch will be placed over your eye and you will rest for a while. You will be watched by your medical team to see if there are any problems, such as bleeding. Most people who have cataract surgery can go home the same day. Since you will not be able to drive, make sure you make arrangements for a ride.




Is Surgery The Only Way To Treat Cataracts?

We can prescribe changes in your eyewear that will help you see more clearly until surgery is necessary, but surgery is the only proven means of effectively treating cataracts.  The surgery is relatively uncomplicated and has a success rate of at least 95 percent.

Findings from a number of nutritional studies indicate that the development or progression of cataract can be controlled.  Research is focusing on new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cataracts.  In addition, scientists are studying the role of genetics in the development of cataracts.


Cineraria is a homeopathic remedy used to treat cataracts.  The eye drops contain two homeopathic active ingredients: cineraria and euphrasia.  Cineraria increases circulation in the intraocular tissues.  Euphrasia is indicated for conjunctival and corneal edema, and is used to treat eye irritability.  According to Natural Ophthalmics, the drops may keep cataracts in check and may even abort early-stage cataracts.




When Will I Need To Have Cataracts Removed?

Cataracts may develop slowly over many years or they may form rapidly in a matter of months. Some cataracts never progress to the point that they need to be removed. Your optometrist will arrange a consultation with a surgeon who will decide on the appropriate time for removal. Most people wait until the cataracts interfere with daily activities before having them removed.




What Happens After Cataract Surgery?

You, along with your doctors, will decide on the type of post-cataract vision correction that you will use. Intraocular lens implants, inserted in your eye at the time of surgery, serve as a "new lens" and are the most frequent form of visual correction. In some cases, however, eyeglasses or contact lenses may also be needed to provide the most effective post-cataract vision.

What Can Be Done To Protect Your Vision?

Although we don't know how to protect against cataracts completely, people over the age of 60 are at risk for many vision problems.  If you are age 60 or older, you should have an eye examination through dilated pupils at least every 2 years.  This kind of exam allows us to check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and other vision disorders.


Can Cataracts Occur in Children?
Cataract in childhood may be caused by injury to the eye, or by a problem with the child's general health. Sometimes it is passed on to the child by heredity, usually from a parent who had the same problem.  Tests may be ordered to help find out why the child has cataract.  In many cases, though, no cause can be found. 
To see their best after cataract surgery, children often need to wear glasses, and sometimes  contact lenses. Without these, vision may be poor. Many children, especially if they have had a cataract in only one eye before age 5 years, need treatment for amblyopia ("lazy eye") after surgery.  Usually this involves placing a patch over the good eye for at least a few hours a day, forcing the child to use the other eye.  Children often object strongly to wearing a patch, but unless this treatment is effectively done, vision may never recover from the harm caused by the cataract. The first few months after surgery are the most important time for treating amblyopia, but usually some amount of patching must be continued up to about age 10 years.

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