More than 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts. They are painless, develop within the existing lenses in your eyes, and are usually detected during routine eye exams. As you age, your lenses naturally harden and may also turn cloudy. A cloudy lens blocks light from reaching the retina and interferes with vision – the effect is similar to looking through a dirty car windshield. Cataracts may form in one or both eyes, at the same time or at different times.
Most cataracts occur gradually as we age however, cataracts can also be present at birth (congenital cataracts) or occur at any age as the result of an injury to the eye (traumatic cataracts). Cataracts can also be caused by diseases such as diabetes, occur as the result of long-term use of certain medications, such as steroids, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, diet low in antioxidants, or excessive exposure to sun.
Fortunately, cataracts can be removed and your vision can be restored. Surgery is usually recommended once the vision has reduced and a person feels their vision interferes with daily activities such as driving, reading or watching TV. Cataract surgery is among the most highly perfected, safe and successful procedures in medicine – more than 95 per cent of patients have improved vision after surgery. It removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial one.
- Blurred vision that cannot be corrected with a change in your glasses prescription.
- Ghost images or double vision in one or both eyes.
- Glare from sunlight and artificial light, including oncoming headlights when driving at night.
- Colors appear faded and less vibrant.
If glasses are not able to correct the vision, we will refer you to an Ophthalmologist for evaluation of the cataract. If surgery is required, the surgeon will remove your clouded lens and replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL). If you need cataracts removed from both eyes, surgery usually will be done on only one eye at a time. An uncomplicated surgical procedure lasts only about 20 minutes. However, you may be in the outpatient facility for 90 minutes or longer because extra time will be needed for preparation and recovery.
During your eye exam, you will be evaluated for cataracts. As part of our integrated approach to health care, Dr. Farrah works closely with your family physician and allied health professionals to ensure that your eye health information is collaborated. We have close relations with local Ophthalmologists and do on-site co-management and referrals for cataracts where specialist care is needed.