A cataract occurs when the lens in the eye can become cloudy and hard. Cataracts can develop from normal aging, from an eye injury, from previous eye surgery or if you have taken certain medications. Cataracts may cause blurred vision, dulled vision, sensitivity to light and glare, and/or ghost images. If the cataract changes vision so much that it interferes with your daily life, the cataract may need to be removed. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. The alternative to surgery is to not have the cataract removed. If you do not have the surgery, your vision probably will not improve and may continue to get worse.
What are the different types of cataracts?
- Age-related cataractMost cataracts are related to aging.
- Congenital cataractSome babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may not affect vision. If they do, they may need to be removed.
- Secondary cataractCataracts are more likely to develop in people who have certain other health problems, such as diabetes. Also, cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.
- Traumatic cataractCataracts can develop soon after an eye injury, or years later.
What are the treatment options for cataract?
Your ophthalmologist will help you decide on the type of IOL that will replace your cloudy lens. There are different types of IOLs available: standard single vision, accommodating, multifocal, and “toric” IOLs that reduce your astigmatism.
Single Vision fixed focus IOLs
These usually provide either sharp vision at distance or sharp near vision. If the lens is focused for distance, then near vision will be blurred. Reading glasses would be necessary to read. Conversely, a single vision lens which focuses the eye for near and reading will give blurred vision in that eye for distance. If the eye is focused for reading/near then glasses would be necessary to see at distance, such as for driving. Standard single vision lenses do not correct astigmatism, and any remaining astigmatism may produce blurring at all distances without glasses.
Toric single vision fixed focus IOLs
These are fixed focus single vision IOLs that help persons with astigmatism see better for distance OR near than they otherwise would if they had a non-toric single vision IOL. (Although Toric lenses improve the sharpness of your vision at distance OR near without glasses, they do not provide BOTH near and distance vision simultaneously.)
These are designed to give good distance vision as well as usable intermediate distance vision such as for the computer screen. Most patients are also able to read large type without glasses but some patients will need reading glasses to read small type. Correction of astigmatism, if necessary, is accomplished through limbal relaxing incisions (LRI).
These are designed to simultaneously give you distance and intermediate and/or reading vision with each eye. The optical results are sometimes not perfect and some patients are bothered by subnormal distance and/or reading vision. Other common optical side effects include halos around lights at night and reduced vision either in bright or dim light.