A cataract is a clouding or opaque area over the lens of the eye – an area that is normally transparent. As the lens becomes cloudy, the light reaching the retina is blurred and distorted, and your vision is affected. This clouded lens is called a cataract, and it must be surgically removed before vision can be restored.
The two most common types of cataracts are:
The cortical cataract and a posterior subcapsular cataract. Depending on the type of cataract, you will experience different vision problems.
The most common cataract symptoms include:
- blurring vision
- sensitivity to light or glare
- double vision in one eye
- poor night vision
- needing brighter light to read
- experiencing fading or yellowing of colors
If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that you have a cataract. Cataracts can be removed at any age. You no longer have to wait until the cataract “ripens” or until you lose your sight before surgery can be performed.
A common surgical procedure used today in cataract extraction is phacoemulsification (often just called “phaco”), where the surgeon removes the cataract through a small incision. In this procedure, the surgeon uses a phaco needle which is about the size of a ballpoint pen tip which vibrates at about 40,000 times a second.
This ultrasonic vibration dissolves the cataract into fine particles, which are then vacuumed through an opening in the instrument. Then, the placement of an intraocular lens (IOL) implant is used to restore vision. The benefits of the phaco approach include an early restoration of vision and return to normal activities. The intraocular implant (IOL) that is used during surgery depends on your needs and targeted outcome.
The most common types of lenses include: