Does your vision seem blurry, distorted, or appear to be gradually worsening? Are you experiencing more sensitivity around lights or glare when driving at night?
These are some of the signs of having cataracts. Cataracts are incredibly common and something that most people will eventually develop.
At New England Eye Center, our ophthalmologists are proud to offer our patients the best care and cataract surgery throughout the Boston area.
What is a Cataract?
Cataracts occur when proteins in the eye’s natural lens clump together, impairing vision. Those with cataracts often say it feels like looking through a dirty or foggy window.
When you have cataracts, you may not realize it at first. It can take years or even decades before a cataract gets large enough to impact your vision.
However, as a cataract develops, visual impairment will only worsen, making it far more difficult to complete everyday activities. Cataracts cause the natural lens to become foggy, and instead of being transparent, the natural lens becomes opaque, making it harder and harder to see.
Symptoms of Having Cataracts
The most common symptom associated with having cataracts is blurry vision. However, there are other symptoms that you may experience, like:
- Glare and halos at night with oncoming headlights
- Light sensitivity
- Noticing colors look more yellow than they used to
- Experiencing double vision in only one eye
- Injuring or falling more due to impaired vision
- Needing more frequent prescription changes to your glasses or contact lenses
- Requiring the use of more light when performing fine-focus tasks
- Noticing colors are no longer as bright and vibrant as they once were
It’s important to realize that you may experience one or more of these symptoms when you have cataracts. You may also only have blurry vision that gradually worsens over time.
If you think you may have cataracts, let your eye doctor know. The signs of cataracts are not exclusive to cataracts, meaning you should have any vision changes checked out to determine their cause.
If it is cataracts, you can devise a plan, including when to consider having cataract surgery.
What Causes Cataracts?
Several things can cause cataracts, but the most common cause is aging. With age, the proteins in the natural lens are more likely to start clumping together, impacting vision.
Other things that can cause cataracts include:
- Too much exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Having medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension
- Trauma to the eye
- Having a family history of cataracts
- Long-time use of corticosteroid
- A history of smoking or second-hand smoke
If you have cataracts, you may not always realize it. Although cataracts are often associated with older individuals, you could start developing cataracts in your forties or fifties.
How Do I Know It’s Time for Cataract Surgery?
One thing that many patients with cataracts assume is that they need cataract surgery right away. However, this is usually not the case.
Most cataract surgeons only recommend cataract surgery when cataracts affect their daily lives. Do you have difficulty driving, cooking, cleaning, or performing your favorite hobbies?
Do you feel uncomfortable leaving the house because you’re afraid you may fall due to the inability to see? If you have cataracts and these things sound familiar to you, it may be time to start considering cataract surgery. Try our cataract self-test below!
Choosing an Intraocular Lens Before Cataract Surgery
If you and your ophthalmologist have decided that it’s time for cataract surgery, you have an important decision to make. Cataract surgery is a successful procedure because it removes the eye’s natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens.
The artificial lens, an intraocular lens (IOL), takes over the job that the once transparent and see-through natural lens could once complete. The IOL ensures that you can see clearly after cataract surgery.
Choosing the right IOL is a decision you and your ophthalmologist will make together. Take some things into consideration before making your choice, like:
- Your lifestyle
- Do you want to wear glasses after cataract surgery?
- Can you afford the out-of-pocket cost associated with premium lenses?
- Are you physically active and looking to reduce dependence on glasses and visual aids?
Ultimately, your ophthalmologist will recommend what they think is the best IOL for you based on these qualifications. Here at New England Eye Center, we offer only the best intraocular lens options.
Intraocular Lens Options at New England Eye Center
At New England Eye Center, there are wide varieties of intraocular lenses available, including:
A monofocal lens only corrects vision at one distance, with the patient needing to wear glasses at the other uncorrected distances. Some patients may choose to achieve monovision using monofocal lenses.
With monovision, you’ll have a lens for seeing up close or at an intermediate distance placed in one eye and another lens set for seeing at a distance in the other. Monofocal lenses are the only IOLs usually covered by insurance because they are basic, standard lenses.
A multifocal lens is a premium intraocular lens because it allows patients to see up close and far away. These IOLs work because different parts of the lens helps focus light appropriately.
One part of the lens helps patients see things further away from them, while the other part of a multifocal IOL helps with seeing things up close. A multifocal lens helps reduce dependence on glasses and contacts after cataract surgery, making it an excellent choice for those looking to be more active.
A trifocal lens is unique because it allows patients to see clearly up close, far away, and at intermediate distances. There is generally no gap in vision between distances.
Trifocal lenses are well-suited for patients that spend a lot of time on the computer or completing other arms-length activities. The trifocal IOL is also great for those that want to stop depending on visual aids after cataract surgery.
Like most premium lenses, trifocal lenses can correct presbyopia and refractive errors during cataract surgery. With this premium IOL, as with all others, patients can look forward to crisper, brighter, and more vibrant vision.
Non-Diffractive Extended Depth of Focus Lenses
A non-diffractive extended depth of focus (EDOF) lens is a premium lens that provides patients with excellent vision at intermediate distances and functional vision when looking at things up close without affecting the ability to see far away. Non-diffractive EDOF IOLs use proprietary X-WAVE technology to seamlessly stretch and shift light without splitting it.
With this premium IOL, patients experience few visual disturbances like glare, starbursts, or halos, and it can also correct presbyopia during cataract surgery.
What Can I Expect During Cataract Surgery?
Before the procedure begins, you’ll receive numbing eye drops to ensure you don’t feel any pain. If you have cataracts in both eyes, you’ll have the first cataract removed and then wait for your eye to heal. After healing, you’ll have the second cataract removed.
During cataract surgery at New England Eye Center in Boston, you’ll have the natural lens of your eye removed. Your cataract surgeon will replace it with a pre-determined intraocular lens to allow you to see clearly after the procedure.
To remove the natural lens, your cataract surgeon will create a small incision in the eye. They will then perform a process called phacoemulsification. Phacoemulsification uses sound waves to break up the lens and the cataract into smaller pieces.
New England Eye Center is also proud to offer our patients femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery as an alternative to manual cataract surgery. Insurance does not cover laser-assisted cataract surgery.
Your surgeon will then use suction to gently vacuum out the cataract and lens pieces. After phacoemulsification, they will insert your IOL through the incision.
They will make sure it’s in position before closing the incision. Since you will have had mild sedative anesthesia, you’ll need someone to drive you home.
What is the Recovery from Cataract Surgery like?
After cataract surgery, you can look forward to improving your vision and a quick recovery. You may be given an eye shield to wear while sleeping, preventing you from accidentally rubbing your eye.
You should be able to start returning to most of your everyday activities within a few days of having cataract surgery but check with your eye doctor for a timeline of what to expect. Your vision may be unstable, meaning it may be blurry, fuzzy, or hazy while your eye gets used to the new artificial lens.
These effects should only be temporary and will dissipate on their own. You’ll need to attend follow-up appointments to ensure your eye is healing as it should after the procedure. Make sure to attend all follow-up appointments and take all prescription eye drops as directed.
Remembering to take these drops may be challenging, so try using your phone alarm to remind you to take them on time. As your eyes continue healing, you’ll start seeing the world more clearly and in more detail.
Do you think you may have cataracts? Learn more by scheduling an appointment below at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, now!