Do you feel as though you are looking through a waterfall or a piece of waxed paper? Has this condition gotten progressively worse?
If you can relate, you may have cataracts. Cataracts can develop at any age, but are extremely common among older adults; by the age of 80, more than 50 percent of individuals either have a cataract or have undergone cataract surgery.
Fortunately, Sandra Belmont, MD, FACS, a well-renowned eye surgeon and leading provider of cataract surgery in New York City, can help. With more than 25 years of ophthalmology experience, she has performed tens of thousands of vision correction procedures.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which often progresses gradually, compromising vision more and more as time goes on. A cataract can develop in one or both eyes. As a person ages, cataracts often occurs as the result of proteins clumping together on the eye’s crystalline lens, leading to the cloudy visual effect.
Other Causes of Cataracts
Aside from the role that the natural aging process tends to play in the development of cataracts, other possible causes of cataracts include:
- Eye trauma
- Congenital factors that can cause cataracts to develop in both eyes in the womb or during childhood (The cataract may be small enough that it does not adversely affect the child’s eyesight.)
- Previous eye surgery that was addressing a different vision problem
- Certain health conditions such as diabetes
- Certain behaviors such as smoking or steroid use
- Exposure to radiation
How to Treat Cataracts
In the early stages of cataract development, it may be possible to improve mildly impaired vision with prescription lenses. As a cataract progresses, however, the only effective treatment option is to remove the cataract-diseased lens with surgery.
Candidates for Cataract Surgery
You may be a candidate for cataract removal if cloudy, compromised vision due to cataracts is affecting your quality of life. If you cannot drive at nighttime or watch television, or are starting to have trouble recognizing faces, it is probably time to consider cataract removal. In order to qualify for surgery, you should not:
- Be pregnant or nursing
- Have excessively dry eyes
- Experience a change in vision prescription within the last year
- Take certain medications that can cause change in vision.
Cataract surgery is extremely common and most people with cataracts qualify for surgery. The sooner the cataracts are removed, the better. Without treatment, cataracts will become increasingly denser and more difficult to remove.
What Cataract Surgery Entails
Cataract surgery is a quick, painless procedure performed under topical anesthesia, on an outpatient basis. Patients typically notice improved vision within a couple days after the procedure. There are two approaches to cataract surgery.
The first approach is the most common and involves using a technique called “phacoemulsification.” During the phacoemulsification process, Dr. Belmont creates a small incision in the cornea, through which she inserts a miniscule probe that emits ultrasonic waves. The ultrasound energy gently breaks up the cataract-diseased lens, so Dr. Belmont can easily suction the pieces from the eye.
The second approach, extracapsular surgery, is less common. With this approach, the Manhattan cataract surgeon makes a slightly larger incision in the side of the cornea, so she can remove the cloudy core of the lens in a single piece before suctioning out the remainder of the lens.
With both approaches, once the cataractous lens has been removed, Dr. Belmont replaces it with an intraocular lens implant (IOL) to restore the patient’s sight after surgery. In addition to offering traditional IOL options, Belmont Eye Center also offers a range of premium IOL choices including multifocal IOLs that allow patients to see clearly at multiple distances and astigmatism-correcting toric IOLs.
Uncloud Your Vision Today
If you are tired of looking at your loved ones’ faces and other images through a cloudy veil, start on your way to achieving unclouded vision today.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Belmont or to learn more about cataract surgery and your IOL options, please contact Belmont Eye Center by calling (212) 486-2020.