Cataract FAQs

What is a cataract?

A cataractA cataract is a clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens. Cataracts are typically linked to advancing age, although researchers have found several non-age-related risk factors, including prolonged use of corticosteroid medications, eye injury or inflammation and family history.

Cataracts develop slowly. In the early stages of cataract development, proteins in the lens start to clump together and cloud the lens. At first, cataracts don’t significantly impair vision. Reading glasses and bright lighting will compensate for mild vision loss due to cataracts. However, over time, cataracts will worsen and eventually interfere with daily activities such as reading and driving.

How do I know if I have cataracts?

You may have cataracts if your vision is slightly blurry. It will seem as though you are looking through a foggy or frosty window. Cataracts also make natural and artificial forms of light brighter. If you have cataracts, a car’s headlight may cause more glare than usual.

Could I go blind from cataracts?

You might, if the cataracts are left untreated. According to Prevent Blindness America, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world.

How are cataracts treated?

When cataracts have progressed enough to affect daily life, they must be surgically removed. During a simple outpatient procedure with Dr. Belmont, the cloudy lens is broken up, the pieces are removed and the natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens (known as an intraocular lens implant or IOL). Vision improves within a few days of the surgery.

Is cataract surgery safe?

Cataract surgery is very safe. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, and restores excellent vision (between 20/20 and 20/40) in 90 percent of cases.

Is cataract surgery painful?

Cataract surgery is not painful. Anesthesia is administered to prevent pain or discomfort. Post-operative pain is uncommon.

How is cataract surgery performed?

A senior couple smiling and holding each otherTraditional cataract surgery involves a technique called phacoemulsification. Dr. Belmont makes a small incision in the cornea. She inserts a tiny probe through the incision that emits ultrasonic waves. These waves gently break up the cataract-diseased lens into fragments, which Dr. Belmont gently suctions from the eye. An alternative way to remove the lens is to make a slightly larger incision in the side of the cornea, remove the core of the lens in a single piece and use gentle suction to remove the remainder of the lens. After the cloudy lens has been removed, Dr. Belmont places an intraocular lens implant (IOL) to restore clear vision. There are multiple IOL options available for use, including premium IOLs that restore vision at multiple distances and astigmatism-correcting IOLs.

What is laser cataract surgery?

Laser cataract surgery is a newer and more advanced way to remove cataracts. During this procedure Dr. Belmont uses a sophisticated femtosecond laser to perform critical steps of the cataract removal process. For example, she makes the initial corneal incisions and breaks up the cataract-diseased lens using the femtosecond laser. This reduces the risks.

Ask Dr. Belmont Your Cataract Questions

If you have a question about cataracts that was not answered here, contact Dr. Belmont of Belmont Eye Center by calling (212) 486-2020 or via email.