What Is a Cataract?

Cataracts are one of the most common age-related eye problems. More than 24.4 million Americans have cataracts, and half of people over 70 have them. Despite that prevalence, we talk to many patients who don’t understand the facts about cataracts.

We’re here to help. Our expert optometrists and ophthalmologists at Paragon Eye Associates in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, have years of experience diagnosing and treating cataracts and can share some details to help you understand this common eye issue. 

What is a cataract?

To understand cataracts, you need to know a little bit about eye anatomy. You’re no doubt familiar with the pupil and iris. Behind your pupils, you have a lens in each eye. These lenses focus light that enters your eye onto your retina. 

Cataracts form when the proteins of your eyes begin to break down. When these protein fragments clump together, they can impair your vision. 

Types of cataracts

In most cases, cataracts are age-related. As you age, your body’s ability to generate new cells slows down, eventually to where it can’t keep up with your body’s needs. This is what causes wrinkles to form on your skin, the cartilage in your joints to wear away, and the proteins in your lenses to break down. 

However, you can also get cataracts after a traumatic eye injury or radiation exposure. Some people develop secondary cataracts after cataract surgery if the membrane that holds the lens in place develops scar tissue. It’s also possible, but rare, for children to get cataracts. 

Signs of a cataract

Cataracts develop gradually, usually after you turn 40. But you might not have any cataract symptoms until your 60s. 

In their early stages, the only way to know if you have cataracts is to have a comprehensive eye exam so your ophthalmologist can examine your lenses along with the rest of your eyes and vision.

As cataracts progress, you may notice that colors begin to lose their brightness. You might eventually feel like you’re looking through gauze or fog. Other cataract symptoms include double vision, sensitivity to light, and reduced night vision. 

Cataract treatments

Surgery is the only treatment for cataracts, and most patients don’t have cataract surgery until their vision has deteriorated beyond the ability of corrective lenses to help. 

Here at Paragon Eye Associates, our ophthalmologists offer several types of cataract surgery to remove and replace the lenses in your eyes. 

Custom cataract surgery

Our surgeons use state-of-the-art technology to replace your cataract-filled lenses with intraocular lenses (IOLs). We offer a variety of IOLs to restore your vision, and in many cases, correct other vision issues such as myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia (a type of farsightedness). 

Depending on your needs, your surgeon may use additional treatments such as the LenSx® femtosecond cataract laser or ORA™ with VerifEye+™ to reshape your cornea and deliver precise, customized cataracts surgery. 

Cataract surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, and many patients recover so quickly that they can drive and return to most regular activities within a few days. Your eye surgeon gives you personalized aftercare instructions and lets you know exactly what to expect while you recover. 

Call our offices in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, or send a message to our team online today if you’re due for a comprehensive eye exam, have cataracts, or are looking for an expert eye surgeon in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

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