What is a Cataract?

Simply put, a cataract is a “clouding” of the eye’s naturally clear lens.

Cataract development is a normal process of aging, but cataracts can also develop from eye injuries, certain diseases, or medications. With improved techniques, cataract surgery is done in about ten minutes or less under local anesthesia with no hospital stay and is one of the most successful procedures performed in the United States today!

Dr. Gregory H. Scimeca employs sutureless, small-incision cataract surgery, a state of the art procedure that involves making a 3 to 4 millimeter incision on your eye's surface to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artifical lens implant.

There are many misconceptions about cataracts.

A cataract is not:

  • a film over the eye
  • caused by overusing the eyes
  • spread from one eye to another
  • a cause of irreversible blindness

A cataract can be the reason sharp images become blurred, and your night vision decreased. It is why your glasses or contact lenses no longer seem to be working. Common symptoms of cataracts include:

a painless blurring of vision

glare, or light sensitivity

poor night vision

double vision in one eye

needing brighter light to read

fading or yellowing of colors

Are there different types of cataracts?

There are three types of cataracts. Each is described by its location on the lens. The most common type of cataract and the one associated with aging is called a nuclear cataract.

A nuclear cataract occurs in the center of the lens. Common symptoms include blurring or dimming of your vision, glare and visual distortion. A nuclear cataract can induce myopia, or nearsightedness, a temporary improvement in your reading vision sometimes referred to as "second sight." Unfortunately "second sight" disappears as the cataract gets worse.

The cortical cataract begins as wedge-shaped spokes in the cortex of the lens. The spokes extend from the outside of the lens to the center. When the spokes reach the center, they interfere with the transmission of light and cause glare and loss of contrast. Many people with diabetes develop this type of cataract. Although a cortical cataract usually develops slowly, it may impair both distance and near vision so significantly that surgery may be suggested at a relatively early stage.

A subcapsular cataract develops slowly and starts as a small opacity under the capsule, usually at the back of the lens. Significant visual symptoms may not appear until the cataract is well developed. Typical symptoms are glare and blur. A subcapsular cataract is often found in people with diabetes or high myopia, adults with retinitis pigmentosa, and in people taking steroids.

How is a cataract detected?

By performing a thorough eye examination. A careful examination will also rule out any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision or other eye problems. Problems with other parts of the eye (such as the corneal, retina or optic nerve) can be responsible for vision loss and may prevent you from having much or any improvement in vision after cataract surgery. Cataract surgery may be performed when your visual needs require it for your daily activites. Based on your symptoms, you and your ophthalmologist should decide together when surgery is appropriate for you.

How fast does a cataract develop?

How quickly the cataract develops varies among individuals and may even be different between the two eyes. Most age-related cataracts progress gradually over a period of years.

Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a short time. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person.

How can a cataract be treated?

There are no medications, eye drops, exercise or laser treatment that will prevent cataracts from forming. The best way to treat a cataract is to remove the old, clouded lens, and replace it with a new lens. Today, millions of people every year undergo this vision-improving procedure and they see excellent results.