Cataracts are a normal part of aging, but they are not something you have to live with. Even though they are the most common vision-related issue for people over 40, there is effective cataract treatment available from the Kagan Institute in Los Angeles, CA. Anything related to your vision can be frightening, but the best way to reduce fear is with knowledge. Read on to learn more about cataracts and how we can treat them to restore your vision.
Cataract Treatment FAQ
How Can You Prevent Cataracts From Getting Worse?
If your cataract is small and isn’t causing you any vision problems, we’ll likely recommend that you postpone any thought of surgery until it’s really necessary. If that’s the case, there are some things you can do to put off treatment.
Keep Out of the Light
The ultraviolet rays of the sun give us vitamin D and improve our mood, but too much exposure is not healthy for skin or for eyes. UV light can cause cataracts to progress faster than they otherwise would.
While it would not be healthy to avoid all exposure to the sun, it’s best to avoid going out when the glare is brightest and the UV light is strongest—from 10 am to 4 pm most of the year, and from 11 am to 3 pm during daylight savings time.
When you do go out, be sure to wear good sunglasses that protect your peripheral vision and offer full-spectrum protection.
Check Your Medications
Some medications have side effects that can actually accelerate cataract development. In fact, there are nearly 300 common prescriptions that can increase your risk. If this is one of the side effects of your medications, talk to your doctor about alternatives that will not make your cataracts worse.
If you do have to take medication that may accelerate your cataract growth, then be sure to avoid the sun even more strictly. Wear sunglasses and a hat, stay out of the sun, and get regular exams so you know the status of your cataracts.
Don’t Use Steroid Eye Drops
Eye drops with steroids reduce inflammation and can help with dry eyes and arthritis of the eyes, but they can also speed up the progression of your cataracts if you already have them.
If you need your eye drops, then get regular eye exams to keep track of your cataracts.
Make Smart Choices
The lifestyle choices you make have an effect on the likelihood of developing cataracts and the progression of any cataracts you do develop. As you can imagine, a “healthy lifestyle” for keeping cataracts at bay is the same healthy lifestyle that you should follow for all other aspects of your health.
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits that are rich in antioxidants. Get as rich a variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet as possible, and avoid lots of carbohydrates, processed foods, and trans fats.
Dehydration can also cause your cataracts to develop more quickly, so drink plenty of water and avoid too much alcohol. Smoking also makes it more likely cataracts will progress, so if you need the motivation to quit, let cataracts be it.
What Is a Cataract Precisely?
Your eye has a natural lens that sits between the front and back of the eye. This is normally clear, and its job is to focus the images you see onto your retina.
As we age, proteins in this lens may start to come together in clumps. If these clumps get large enough, they can block the light coming through the lens and cause your vision to become cloudy.
Aren’t Cataracts Something that Happen to People Over 60?
Most people who are going to get cataracts will actually develop them in their 40s and 50s, but they typically don’t start affecting your vision until you get to be 60 or older. Infants and young children can have congenital cataracts or cataracts caused by metabolic disease.
If you have had eye trauma or radiation treatment, if you take corticosteroids, or if you are a long-term diabetic, you have a greater risk of developing cataracts earlier. If you are able to stop taking corticosteroids, and if you can keep your blood sugar under control, you can reduce the risk of getting them and keep any you have from getting worse too quickly.
Are Cataracts Really Serious?
There is both good and bad news in the answer to this question. The good news is that we have effective treatments that can help. The bad news is that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
The key to preserving your sight is simple: get regular vision checks and cataract treatment as necessary.
Are There Any Symptoms?
Cataracts don’t cause any pain or discomfort, so there are no symptoms until they start to actually interfere with your vision. Once that happens, you may notice that things look blurry, cloudy, or distorted. You might see halos around lights, experience double vision, or feel extra sensitive to bright glares of the lights of other vehicles on the road at night.
Does Cataract Surgery Really Work?
It does! In fact, surgery improves vision for 95% of people, and if you get an intraocular lens replacement, vision is often improved to 20/40 or even better.
What Cataract Treatment Options Do You Offer?
The best way to treat serious cataracts is to restore your vision through lens replacement. We offer four different lenses that could be right for your situation. Each lens offers certain benefits.
If you don’t suffer from presbyopia, this lens can give you clear, sharp vision at intermediate distances. In fact, it typically gives the sharpest vision for these distances, which makes it perfect for normal reading, grocery shopping, and similar activities. These allow you to focus on where you use your vision most.
This lens is designed to give you good vision at close and far distances without the need for glasses. The lens itself is made up of concentric rings, each of different lens power. This is one of the older lenses out there, so there’s been more time to study the long-term effects, making it a safe option.
This is great for anyone who needs to see far without losing depth perception. This lens is good for those with overall good eye health and without severe glaucoma or scarring on the cornea.
If you have astigmatism, these could be the best option for you. Astigmatism describes a condition where your cornea is oval-shaped instead of perfectly round. As a result, light tends to bend instead of focusing sharply, giving you blurry vision. If you have this condition, the Toric lens can give you excellent sight and take care of your cataracts.
If you have presbyopia, this is a great choice, and these lenses are as flexible as your own natural eye lens. Not only can these clear up your cataracts, but they may restore your vision to the sort of sharpness you enjoyed when you were younger. This is a newer lens choice, but a great option for the right candidates.
How Does Cataract Surgery Work?
There are two parts to the process. First, we make a very small hole to access your natural lens and remove it. Then we replace it with the clear implant. There are no stitches required, and you can expect to heal quickly.
You will be awake while you have the surgery, but there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not painful, and you’ll be given medication to keep you relaxed and comfortable. The whole thing takes just about 10 minutes!
Will I Get Dry Eyes?
Cataract surgery doesn’t usually cause you to develop dry eyes. The process doesn’t interfere with your tear production and doesn’t require stitches. However, if you already have a problem with dry eyes, we may help you to treat this first before you have your cataract treatment.
Does Surgery Help With Night Vision?
If you’ve been having issues with seeing well at night or in low light conditions, you’ll be glad to know that cataract surgery is going to help.
Sensitivity to light and difficulty seeing without lots of light are very notable symptoms of cataracts, and once you get rid of the proteins that are interfering with your vision, you will be able to see normally at night again. In fact, improved night vision is one of the most dramatic improvements you’re likely to experience.
Does Medicare Pay for This?
Cataract surgery is usually considered medically necessary if your cataract is interfering with your visual acuity, meaning it’s typically covered by Medicare.
However, depending on the type of procedure and lens you choose, some parts of the procedure may not be covered. Be sure to talk to your insurer and come speak with us about all your options.
What If I Have Glaucoma?
It’s certainly possible to have cataract surgery even if you have glaucoma. The surgery may even lower your eye pressure, allowing you to get relief from your glaucoma completely. It is important to carefully monitor your eye pressure during surgery, but for a skilled surgeon like Dr. Arkady Kagan, this is not an issue.
Immediately after your cataract surgery, sometimes eye pressure is temporarily elevated, so it’s very important to follow all instructions for the first day to ensure you have no difficulties.
What Is the Recovery Like?
Recovery isn’t difficult or painful in any way. Once you are home, you should sleep as much as you feel like for the first few hours. You will be given a protective shield to wear over your eye when you sleep to ensure you don’t accidentally touch the eye too soon.
You’ll be given some drops to prevent inflammation and infection, and it’s important to use these exactly as instructed to get the best possible result. Your eyes will need a little time to adapt to the new lens, so your vision may seem a little wavy or cloudy at first. This will pass in just a few hours.
Many people have clear, sharp vision in just a few hours, while other people need about a week for their eyes to adapt, but you won’t feel any pain during this time. Your vision will be back to normal (only better) within a week, and you can expect to be fully healed in a month or less.
Learn More About What Cataract Treatment Can Do for You
Whether you need treatment or you’re looking for an exam from a qualified professional to assure the health of your eyes, visit us at the Kagan Institute in Los Angeles, CA today. We’re ready to help with this and any other eye issues you might face.