Drs. Richard Gordon and Sonia Belliappa have created this cataracts overview to help patients in the greater Pomona, NY, area and beyond understand the causes, symptoms, and other aspects of cataracts. If you are experiencing cataracts symptoms or any other changes in vision, please contact us today.
Our staff is committed to providing personalized, technologically advanced care at every stage of your treatment.
Why do Cataracts Occur?
Located behind the iris and pupil, the crystalline lens plays an integral part in focusing light onto the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The crystalline lens is flexible, allowing you to focus on objects at multiple distances.
The lens is composed of water and a complex matrix of proteins. Cataracts develop when these proteins begin to clump together. When light passes through a lens affected by cataracts, it becomes scattered rather than focused, compromising vision. Eventually, cataracts will obstruct vision completely, and surgery is the only permanent solution.
Cataract symptoms can include:
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Halos or glares
- Double or multiple vision
- Partial to complete night blindness
- Faded or yellowing colors
- A more frequent need for new prescriptions
As the cataracts advance, these symptoms gradually become more pronounced. If you experience any of these symptoms, the surest way to identify the cause is to schedule an appointment with an experienced ophthalmologist.
Cataract diagnosis is performed using simple tests. A visual acuity test, in which the patient reads rows of letters printed in a range of sizes, can reveal any changes in vision. A slit lamp test involves using an intense line of light and a microscope to view the lens and other structures of the eye in great detail. The eyes may be dilated to improve the ophthalmologist’s view of these structures. Ramapo Eye offers cataracts diagnosis using other advanced tools to determine if patients are also experiencing glaucoma or another condition that can affect the retina or cornea, since these issues can increase some risks of cataract surgery.
While it is not entirely understood what causes cataracts, a number of factors can contribute to their development, including:
- Trauma: Injury, inflammation, and surgery can contribute to the development of cataracts. Disruption of the lens may lead to clouding, sometimes years after the damage originally occurred.
- Various health conditions and lifestyle choices: Diabetes, glaucoma, hypertension, excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, or long-term use of certain medications such as corticosteroids or cholesterol reducers can contribute to cataracts.
- Environmental factors: Certain types of radiation, ultraviolet light, or long-term exposure to the sun can increase your risk of developing cataracts.
Meanwhile, some individuals are born with cataracts, or develop them early in childhood.
Cataracts are classified according to where they occur within the crystalline lens:
- Subcapsular: This type of cataract develops at the back of the lens. Most often seen in patients with diabetes or taking high doses of corticosteroid medications, subcapsular cataracts often do not present symptoms until late in their growth.
- Nuclear: The most common type of cataract occurs in the center (nucleus) of the lens. It is typically associated with aging.
- Cortical: These cataracts usually begin at the edges of the nucleus, slowly progressing inward. The resulting wedges of white, opaque tissue appear similar to the spokes of a wheel.
The only permanent treatment for a cataract is surgery. Most doctors will only recommend surgery once the cataracts begin to interfere with your daily life, preventing you from reading, using a computer or handheld device, or driving. In the early stages, most patients can manage their symptoms with non-surgical solutions. An up-to-date glasses prescription, magnifying glasses, and ample lighting can help you see more clearly until surgery becomes necessary.
Cataracts surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the U.S. During this outpatient surgery, your doctor will remove the clouded lens and replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs are available in a range of prescriptions, and can be monofocal or multifocal. During a consultation, your ophthalmologist can help you determine the best way to address your needs and restore your vision. Our practice uses the ORA™ system, which relies on precise digital imaging technology to determine the appropriate power of IOL for your needs.
Contact Us Today
Here at Ramapo Ophthalmology Associates, we believe our patients need and deserve the best vision care possible. Our staff is committed to providing personalized, technologically advanced care at every stage of your treatment. If you are experiencing changes in your vision, contact us today to schedule an appointment.