Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that affects vision. This condition is common among older adults. As reported by the National Eye Institute (NEI), more than half of all Americans have cataracts, or have had cataract surgery, by age 80.
How Do Cataracts Form?
The lens of the eye helps focus images on the retina. It lies behind the iris and pupil. The iris is the thin, circular structure that controls the diameter and size of the pupil -- the hole in the center of the iris that allows light to strike the retina.
In a normal eye, the lens is transparent. Light passes through the lens to the retina, where it is transformed into nerve signals sent to the brain. The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image.
Made mostly of water and protein, the lens adjusts the focus of the eye to allow for clear vision up close and at a distance. As we age, the proteins can clump together and cause clouding in area of the lens, which may grow larger, clouding more of the lens over time. This is a cataract.
What Causes Cataracts?
Aging is the most common cause of cataracts, as stated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Changes begin to occur in the eye with the normal aging process after approximately age 40.
When proteins in the lens begin to break down, the lens can start to become cloudy. Most people over the age of 60 have some clouding of the lenses, although vision problems may not occur until the later years as the condition advances.
In addition to aging, there are other less common causes of cataracts.
Risk factors for this condition include:
- Genetics (parents, siblings, or other family members who have had cataracts)
- Certain medical conditions, including diabetes
- Previous eye injury or eye surgery
- Radiation treatments in the upper body
- Exposure to the sun without sunglasses to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids (used to treat swelling and inflammation in the eye and other parts of the body)
What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
If you experience symptoms of cataracts, it is vital that you visit our skilled Alpharetta ophthalmologist, Dr. Nemi, for a professional evaluation. Symptoms may include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Extra sensitivity to light
- Poor night vision
- Seeing bright colors as faded
- Seeing double (two images instead of one)
- Glare from headlights, lamps, or sunlight, with a halo around the lights in some cases
State-of-the-Art Cataract Surgery
Dr. Nemi at Lotus Vision is a board-certified, fellowship-trained cataract surgeon in Alpharetta, serving the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. He performs cataract surgery using cutting-edge techniques that do not require a needle, sutures, or an eye patch in most cases.
The procedure is performed with topical anesthesia and intravenous sedation on an outpatient basis and typically takes less than ten minutes to complete. Dr. Nemi surgically removes the cloudy natural lens and inserts an intraocular lens (IOL), which remains in the eye as a replacement for the natural structure. You can expect a quick recovery with little or no discomfort after cataract surgery in Alpharetta.