According to the National Institutes of Health, cataracts affect more than half of all Americans over the age of 80, and are very common in people over the age of 50. However, despite the prevalence of this condition, many people aren’t exactly sure what cataracts are, which can make them difficult to recognize in the early stages. Here we provide a brief overview of cataracts, the different types and the symptoms that accompany them, and some of the intraocular lenses we have to treat them. To learn more about cataracts from Dr. Schwartz, contact our Scottsdale or Glendale eye care center today.
What Are Cataracts?
Much like how clouds are formed by water molecules, cataracts occur when proteins within the liquid inside the lens of the eye begin to break down and stick together. This cloudy area within the eye accumulates proteins over time, making the cataract grow and muddying a person’s vision.
Since this condition happens within the lens of the eye, it can affect just one eye or both. Typically, especially in cases of cataracts forming in both eyes, the cause is age. However, cataracts can be created by outside factors as well — for instance, certain medications, physical damage to the eye, lifestyle choices, and environmental influences can all play a role in the creation of a cataract.
Conditions and Symptoms
There are different kinds of cataracts, and the symptoms for each differ slightly. Naturally, all cataracts result in obstruction of vision from within the eye itself, but knowing the different symptoms can help determine what kind of cataract is present, and in turn, how to properly treat the cataract. All types of cataracts are treated at our Scottsdale eye care center, and are explained in general below:
Nuclear – This is the most common type of cataract. It occurs in the middle of the lens (also known as the central nucleus). This is a slow growing cataract that affects distance vision, lending a yellow tint to the nucleus itself.
Subcapsular – These progress quickly and become advanced within months. Subcapsular cataracts occur within the back of the lens and cause blurriness and glare in vision. Retinitus pigmentosa, advanced nearsightedness, diabetes, and steroid medication can all help create this type of cataract.
Cortical – This type of cataract starts at the outermost part of the lens, then advances towards the center of the lens, creating a starburst pattern. This causes problems for both distance and near vision because it occurs within the lens cortex, and can cause halos to appear around lights. It is also the most common form of cataract affecting the elderly.
Congenital – These are cataracts that have existed since birth, and any of the three listed above can be included. There are a few different reasons why they may exist, including infection in-vitro or some genetic conditions. These cataracts do not always affect vision, but if they do, diagnosing this issue early can play a key role to a child’s development. If you are concerned, please feel free to contact us and make an appointment.
Treatments and IOLs (Intraocular Lenses)
A range of treatment options can be called upon to treat cataracts, from eye glasses to the surgical placement of intraocular lenses. The treatment that is appropriate for you will be determined during your initial consultation with Dr. Schwartz. Here are some of the lenses we offer at Schwartz Laser Eye Center located in Glendale and Scottsdale, Arizona:
AcrySof ReSTOR® IOL is recommended for cataract patients requiring vision correction at varying distances. Individuals who need bifocals or eyeglasses to read up-close and to see at a distance are typically good candidates for the AcrySof ReSTOR® IOL. This innovative lens is implanted into the eye and provides superior results, which are typically evident just one day after the procedure. The lens material is soft and pliable, so lenses can be easily implanted and are also comfortable.
TECNIS® – This implantable lens provides patients with exceptionally clear, crisp vision at varying distances, in any type of lighting. Patients most likely won’t need to wear glasses or contact lenses after the procedure.
Crystalens® AO Accommodating Lens – This lens actually uses the focusing muscles within the eye to provide a more natural range of vision change. So whether it’s going from reading to looking out the window, the transition feels more like it should. The lens also helps with night vision, reducing glare that is normally found in other IOLs.
Victus Femtosecond Laser
We use the Victus femtosecond laser to help enhance the safety and precision of cataract surgery. The femtosecond laser replaces traditional surgical instruments in key steps of the procedure, including the creation of the incision in the capsule holding the lens, and the softening and fragmentation of the lens. The laser is specifically calibrated based on the individual patient’s eye anatomy for better accuracy. Also, replacing a handheld instrument with a laser eliminates many of the risks associated with traditional cataract surgery.
Learn More about Cataracts and Our Treatments
Think cataracts might be affecting you? Contact our office in Scottsdale or Glendale to schedule an appointment with Dr. Schwartz. We will gladly help you with any vision issues you may have, from cataracts, to macular degeneration, to myopia and hyperopia. After performing over 45,000 LASIK surgeries, Dr. Schwartz can safely be called one of the most trusted eye surgeons in the valley — come find out why for yourself!