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Everything You Need to Know About Cataracts

According to Prevent Blindness America, over 22 million Americans are affected by cataracts. By the year 2020, that number is expected to jump to more than 30 million.  The majority of cataracts are related to aging. Over half of all Americans over the age of 80 have, or had, at least one cataract.

If you’re over 60, it’s important to be aware of this increasingly common eye condition.

What Are Cataracts Our eyes have natural lenses that refract (bend) light rays as they come into the eyes. These lenses, located behind the iris and the pupil, help us see… if they’re clear.

When you have a cataract, that lens becomes cloudy. This “cloud” is caused by a buildup of protein in the lens of your eye. The protein build up prevents light rays from passing through your lens, causing you to lose some of your eyesight.

Different types of cataracts include: Secondary (Subcapsular) Cataract: Mainly occurring in people with diabetes, this cataract occurs at the back of the lens. Individuals exposed to toxic chemicals, radiation, or those taking high doses of steroids are also at risk of developing this type of cataract.Age-Related (Nuclear) Cataract: This is the most common type of cataract. They develop in the central section of the lens as you get older.Congenital Cataracts: These cataracts affect babies and children. They develop in the womb or form in early childhood as a result of infection or injury. Aside from naturally forming as we age, other factors – such as smoking, UV exposure, heavy drinking, and air pollution – have been known to increase the risk of developing cataracts. Symptoms of Cataracts

Cataracts typically develop slowly over a period of time. At first, you might notice a slight blurring in your vision. Others don’t notice them until they begin to block light. If you’re at risk for cataracts, you should be aware of the following symptoms:

  • ​Blurred, foggy, or cloudy vision

  • Seeing a glare or halo around from oncoming headlights as you drive

  • Changes in the way you see bright colors, seeing them as faded or yellow

  • Double vision

  • Extreme sensitivity to light

  • Problems with glasses or contacts

Your specific type of cataract will affect which symptoms you experience or when they occur. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s important to schedule an eye exam with a qualified optometrist for an official diagnosis.

Detecting Cataracts

A cataract can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. Tests done during a comprehensive eye exam include:

  • Slit Lamp Examination: A microscope used to evaluate the health of your eyes

  • Tonometry: This uses an instrument to measure the pressure inside your eye.

  • Visual Acuity Test: A simple eye chart test determines how well you see at different distances.

  • Dilated Eye Exam: Drops placed into your eye causes the pupil to widen. Then, using a magnifying lens, the doctor will examine your eye lenses for signs of cataracts.

During your exam, Dr. Oker may also perform other tests to discover more about the health and structure of your eye.

Cataract Treatments Sometimes, optometrists may prescribe anti-glare sunglasses, new eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, or brighter lighting to help treat early cataract symptoms. However, surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts.,_2012,_during_120805-N-GL340-017.jpg

While surgery is a scary prospect, keep in mind the following facts:

  • ​Cataract remediation is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in America

  • The surgery itself is simple and relatively painless

  • 90% of patients regain somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40 vision

  • Although there are some risks, there is a very low complication rate with the procedure

During the surgery itself, your clouded lens is removed and replaced with a clear plastic lens, known as an IOL. The procedure usually takes less than an hour and only requires an anesthetic to numb the nerves around and in the eye.

Call Eden Eye Prairie Today For a Comprehensive Exam

When vision loss starts to interfere with your driving, television watching, reading, or other everyday activities, it’s important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Oker at Eden Prairie Eye Care for a professional diagnoses. Together, you and Dr. Oker can discuss whether cataract surgery is right for you.

Make an informed decision! Contact our office at (952) 944-2792 today or schedule an appointment online. We’ll ensure you have all information you need to move forward.


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