Affecting over 24 million Americans, cataracts are one of the most common conditions affecting vision, particularly in those over 40. While a leading cause of blindness worldwide, treatment for cataracts in the United States is readily available. Dr. Heather Winslow is our cataract surgeon, and she also performs surgery at the Decatur Hospital or Denton Surgery Center. Contact the practice today to schedule an appointment to get your vision back on track.

Cataracts Q & A

by Edward H. Fries, MS, OD

What are cataracts?

Normally, the lens of your eye is completely transparent, perfect for gathering light in a variety of conditions. When affected by cataracts, the lens starts to cloud, giving the effect of viewing the world through an increasingly foggy window. The onset of cataracts is usually slow, occurring over years. In the early stages of cataracts, there may be little effect on your vision.

As the condition progresses, it becomes more difficult to read or drive a car, particularly at night, when street lights and headlights aggravate the blurriness that cataracts produce. Stronger eyeglasses and bright light may address these changes, but eventually, your eyesight could become so compromised that surgical intervention becomes necessary.

What causes cataracts?

While injury and medication may cause cataracts to occur, in many cases the cause is unknown, other than an age-related tissue breakdown. Though cataracts predominantly affect older patients, slightly favoring women to men, congenital cataracts can affect people of all ages, including newborns.

The clouding that occurs with cataracts originates with clumps of lens tissue breaking down and clumping together within the lens. This typically starts slowly and gets worse over time, creating the symptoms associated with the condition. These symptoms include:

  • Blurring, clouding, or loss of brightness to vision
  • Fading of color perception
  • Halos around light sources
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Light sensitivity
  • Problems with glare
  • Frequently changing eyeglass prescriptions

How does Dr. Fries treat cataracts?

Cataracts usually develop slowly, so there’s plenty of time to decide when surgery is right for you. The only treatment for cataracts is the removal of the clouded lens. An intraocular artificial lens replaces the natural lens. 

Surgery is conveniently done on an outpatient basis under local anesthetic. If both eyes are affected, two surgeries, weeks or months apart, are scheduled to give the first eye time to recover.

Intraocular lenses may not restore your eyesight to its previous pre-cataract condition, and so corrective glasses or contacts are likely required. Dr. Fries can explain the options available to you during your initial consultations. However, there are options with premium intraocular lenses that can address eye problems such as:

  • Myopia
  • Astigmatism
  • Near- and far-sightedness

After your initial consultation with Dr. Fries, we will schedule you to meet with our surgeon in the office once it’s been determined that the next step is to proceed with surgery. Dr. Heather Winslow is a board-certified Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The surgery will be performed at the Decatur Hospital or Denton Surgery Center.

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Heather Winslow.