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 for cataract treatment in Vestavia Hills, AL, close to Birmingham, AL, today.

What are the Symptoms of cataracts?

The most noticeable symptom of a cataract at Young. H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center 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.

What are the 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 Birmingham, AL 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

Am I at risk for cataracts?

At Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center, several factors contribute to a higher risk for cataracts. Age is one of the biggest players in developing cataracts. If you are diabetic, overweight, or have high blood pressure, you may also be at a higher risk. UV exposure can also damage your eyes. If you notice symptoms or suspect you may be developing cataracts based on these risk factors, contact our Birmingham, AL office to set up an appointment at your earliest convenience.

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.

How are cataracts treated?

After Dr. Choi gives a diagnosis of a cataract, he can start to outline the potential approaches for cataract treatment near Birmingham, AL. These new 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 with 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.

What should I expect after cataract treatment?

Once the surgery is finished, every patient is given thorough post-op rules that are necessary for maximized healing and results. These rules typically include issues like timing and dosage of any anti-inflammatory eye drops, if an eye patch will be needed, how to sleep without bumping or touching the eyes, and taking a break from strenuous activities. Dr. Choi will do one last brief eye exam before giving the okay for the patient to recover at home. It is normal for cataract surgery patients to deal with some cloudy vision for an hour or so after the procedure, but this is merely an acclimation process as the eyes and the brain adapt to the new lens. Most individuals who have cataract surgery notice red eyes and a little bruising that resembles a black eye for about a week following the surgery.

Those who have cataract surgery are scheduled to return to Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center within one day of their procedure for their initial follow-up exam and for planning further follow-ups, depending on each patient’s healing status.

Cataracts FAQ

When should you receive treatment for cataracts?
You should receive a thorough eye evaluation as soon as you notice changes in your vision that affect your everyday life. Additionally, treatment should be received when cataracts affect the treatment of another eye issue. This can affect the health of your overall eye and cause even more vision problems.

Can cataracts go away on their own?
Unfortunately, cataracts will not clear up on their own. Instead, they typically continue to worsen over time without treatment. This is why Dr. Choi recommends receiving a consultation at the onset of cataract symptoms.

Can cataracts be prevented?
The best way to prevent cataracts is to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. This includes not smoking and reducing alcohol consumption. You should also receive regular eye exams so that any eye issues can be detected as early as possible.

What are the beginning signs that I might have cataracts?
The beginning signs or symptoms of cataracts may include impaired night vision or clouded and blurred vision. You may also have double vision or increased light sensitivity. If you notice any of the previous symptoms, please do not hesitate to set up your consultation with Dr. Choi today.

When do cataracts become a problem?
Most individuals start to notice signs of cataracts around the age of 40. In the vast majority of cases, cataracts are an adult-onset ailment. However, occasionally birth defects can cause babies to be born with cataracts.

Can cataracts be cured?

Yes. With cataract surgery, we can remove your cataracts and restore your vision using an intraocular lens (IOL). There are, unfortunately, no nonsurgical alternatives that can treat cataracts.

Can cataracts return after surgery?

After having cataracts removed, they cannot grow back. This is because the natural eye of your lens will be removed during the procedure and replaced with an artifical IOL, which is not capable of developing cataracts.

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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