Cataracts Explained Near Birmingham, AL

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What are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that leads to loss of vision, and potentially, complete blindness if not discovered soon enough and treated appropriately. In the majority of people, cataracts are an unavoidable part of getting older, as the proteins within the eye's lens naturally break down over time. The lack of transparency progressively worsens and prevents light from reaching the retina the way it should. Having cataracts is extremely common, and nearly two million people get cataract surgery each year. Cataracts can develop relatively slowly so patients in the early stages usually don't realize their condition. This is the primary reason why undergoing comprehensive eye exams at least every other year is key to your general eye health. 

Ophthalmologist Dr. Young H. Choi and our team at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center are skilled in diagnosing and treating cataracts in the early stages, as well as in guiding our patients in successfully controlling advancing symptoms. Contact our office in Vestavia Hills, AL today to schedule a private consultation with Dr. Choi to assess your ocular health.

Symptoms of cataracts

The most noticeable symptom of a cataract is progressively hazy eyesight that isn’t sharpened by an individual’s current lens prescription. Often, patients start to realize they need brighter light to be able to read. Additional sight-related symptoms may include limited night vision, noticing more glare or halos, and seeing with an overall brownish cast. Cataracts aren’t physically uncomfortable and can be present for many years before they lead to any visual disturbances. On average, the condition starts to develop at some point between 40 – 50 years of age, but a lot of patients don’t experience any cataract symptoms before reaching their 60s.

Causes of cataracts

Cataracts are a part of advancing age and the natural degeneration of the proteins that make up the lens of the eye. This process occurs in all men and women, but there are further lifestyle and health issues that often impact the process. Lifestyle issues, like smoking, alcohol abuse, and prolonged exposure to UV rays, have been shown to correspond with cataracts, as well as certain medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Additional factors that can impact the condition include:

  • Degenerative myopia
  • Certain medications, such as steroids
  • A family history of cataracts
  • Injury to the eye
  • Certain types of eye surgeries

How are cataracts Diagnosed?

To determine if someone has cataracts, an ophthalmologist or optometrist has to give a comprehensive eye exam. Our team at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center is widely experienced in the tests involved in a thorough cataract exam. The most effective tests to examine a patient for cataracts are all quite simple, fast, and cause little to no discomfort.

First, Dr. Choi will give the patient a simple acuity test. This is generally done via a basic eye chart. After that, he might do a contrast sensitivity test, which is a lot like a vision test but checks how clearly the patient can perceive contrast. Following the acuity and contrast tests, a slit-lamp exam is usually performed. In a slit-lamp exam, Dr. Choi uses a customized microscope that emits a powerful but extremely thin “slit” of illumination into the eye to examine the cornea, iris, and lens. Lastly, he will conduct the retinal exam, and in some cases, a potential acuity meter (PAM) exam. Prior to these tests, enlarging the pupils using eye drops is required. Widening the pupils is very helpful because it allows the largest view to look at the complete lens for cataracts. If any are found, then the PAM might be done. A PAM gauges a patient’s potential vision without the cataract. The PAM is especially important in deciding on an IOL if the patient opts to have cataract surgery.

Treatment Options

After Dr. Choi gives a diagnosis of a cataract, he can start to outline the potential approaches for treatment. These treatments for cataracts are selected according to the progression of the disease. In the beginning stages, the majority of patients can manage quite well with new prescription lenses. Patients whose cataracts have advanced may need a more involved solution, like a trabeculectomy (traditional cataract surgery) or laser surgery. Dr. Choi and his experienced staff are dedicated to providing each of our patients the best available care. Based on the progression of the condition, we might treat patients at our office or recommend they visit a specialist we know and trust.

Clear Vision After Cataracts

Men and women who are experiencing any symptoms like these or who haven’t undergone a comprehensive eye exam for more than two years ought to schedule an appointment with their primary ophthalmologist. Particularly for men and women who are in their 40s, getting comprehensive eye exams no less than every other year is very important to finding and managing cataracts and other eye conditions. With a prompt diagnosis, we can create an individualized treatment plan at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center to manage your cataracts. If you live in Vestavia Hills or near Birmingham, AL, give our office a call today to schedule your initial consultation.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.

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