Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, with more than twenty-five million people affected each year. Significant loss of vision, however, is often preventable and even restorable as advances in cataract surgery have allowed for predictable and excellent results. Millions of people undergo this vision-improving procedure every year and emerge with their vision restored.
Here at the Hawaii Eye Institute we are committed to the treatment of cataracts.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people and the average age at the time of cataract surgery is around 70 years of age. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.
What is the Lens?
The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps focus light or images on to the retina, which is a light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina transmits light into nerve signals which are then sent to the brain for recognition and coding so that you are able to "see" your environment and recognize objects. If the lens is clouded and no longer clear, the incoming images will appear blurry since the retina and brain cannot properly transmit the image.
What are the Different Types of Cataracts?
1. A secondary cataract develops from a primary health issue. Sometimes, initial health issues can cause additional medical problems, termed as a 'secondary' because it has developed from a prior health issue rather than on its own. Initial health issues such as glaucoma, diabetes, and use of steroid medications can cause secondary cataracts.
2. A traumatic cataract develops after an injury such as head trauma or direct eye injury.
3. A congenital cataract can develop in utero during pregnancy. An infant can be born with cataracts, or a cataract can be developed later in childhood. A congenital cataract is due to a birth defect with improper development of the clear lens of the eye.
4. A radiation cataract can develop from exposure to certain types of radiation.
What Causes Cataracts?
The lens exists behind the iris and the pupil of the eye. With a normal clear lens, light is focused from the lens onto the retina at the back of the eye. When the retina receives the light signal it transmits the image into a nerve signal where the brain can then translate the image into what we see. The lens also adjusts the eye's focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away.
The lens is made up of mostly water and proteins. As we age, this protein can cluster together which reduces the incoming light and starts to cloud the lens. As time passes, the protein continues to clump together, further clouding the lens and creating impaired vision.
Who is at Risk for Cataracts?
Cataracts are usually the result of aging; however young individuals, such as pediatric patients, can develop cataracts as well. As you age, the risk factors for cataracts increases.
Risk factors include:
- Primary health issues such as diabetes, glaucoma, retinal detachment and congenital problems
- Chronic use of tobacco, alcohol and steroid medicines
- Exposure to prolonged sunlight (UV Rays)
- Family history (genetics)
What Can I do to Protect My Vision?
Not only is it important to protect your skin in the sunny Hawaiian environment, it is also important to protect your eyes from the sun and its strong UV rays. Help preserve your vision by wearing sunglasses and a brimmed hat to shade your eyes. This may help to delay the formation of a cataract.
It is also important to have a nutritious diet composed of foods rich in antioxidants such as green leafy vegetables and fruit.
As you age into your 60's, you should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year to monitor the changes in your eyes. This type of in-depth exam is performed by Dr. Schmidt who will help guide you in the proper direction for all your eye needs. Should you have cataracts, Dr. Schmidt and his team will provide the most beneficial treatment unique to your eyes.
In addition to cataracts, Dr. Schmidt can also check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and other vision disorders. Early treatment for eye diseases may save your sight.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
- Clouded or blurred vision
- Image colors appear faded
- Glare from headlights, sunlight, or lamps
- Halos around light
- Poor night vision
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye
Cataracts are the Leading Causes of Low Vision and Blindness
Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness in the world today, with more than twenty-five million people affected each year. Significant loss of vision is often preventable and even restorable as advances in cataract surgery have allowed for predictable and excellent results. Millions of people undergo this vision-improving procedure every year and emerge with their vision restored. Still millions more around the world continue to lose their sight as a result of the condition.
We are Committed to the Treatment of Cataracts.
Worldwide, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, affecting 18 million people. Cataracts are even more significant as a cause of low vision - affecting 62 million worldwide.
Having Cataract Surgery, Happily, Removes the Cataract
“A calibrated lens is inserted, with your exact prescription - very shortly after the surgery, you can see quite well. Within, say 2 weeks, everything has settled down and your vision is as close to perfect as it can get. It is just like getting new eyes and certainly a miracle. Dr. Schmidt has performed two of these surgeries on me, first the left eye, then the right eye and I am totally amazed - my vision is just like new!"
-Patient of Dr. Schmidt