Blog post by: Eye Physicians of Long Beach

A cataract occurs when the proteins in your eyes break down and clump together on your lens, clouding your vision. Trying to see the world around you with a cataract is like looking out of a foggy window.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try when you have a cataract. You can’t see through the fog.

While cataracts are a highly prevalent eye condition, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there that can prevent people with cataracts from seeking the treatment they need. Keep reading to learn more about what’s true and not about cataracts and what you need to know about them.

False: If Your Eyes Do Not Hurt, then You Don’t Have Cataracts

If you have cataracts, they don’t usually cause any pain. Instead, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Halos and glare
  • Poor night vision
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Frequent prescription changes
  • Colors appearing faded or dull
  • Needing brighter light for reading and other up-close activities

False: Cataracts are Only Age-Related

While age is the primary cause of most cataracts, it’s not the only one. Cataracts can occur at any age and may be present even from birth, meaning you would have congenital cataracts. You may develop cataracts at an earlier age due to the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Past eye injury
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Family history of early cataracts
  • Long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications

True: You Can Reverse Blindness from Cataracts

A cataract forms and develops on the eye’s natural lens. As it grows, it impairs your vision.

Vision loss from cataracts happens gradually over many years in most people. But for some patients, vision loss is more rapid.

Eventually, cataracts cause blindness without treatment. The good news is that you can entirely reverse blindness from cataracts by having cataract surgery.

By having your cataracts removed, you can regain any vision lost.

False: You Can Get Cataracts Twice

During cataract surgery, your surgeon removes your natural lens where the cataract has formed. After removing the natural lens, they implant an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL).

Cataracts cannot develop or grow on an intraocular lens. Once you have a cataract removed from the natural lens, you will not have them again.

However, the capsule or bag-like structure that holds the IOL in place can sometimes become cloudy due to scar tissue formation. This condition is called a secondary cataract or a posterior capsule opacification (PCO).

A secondary cataract doesn’t mean that your cataracts have returned. But some people may think they have cataracts again because the symptoms of posterior capsule opacification mimic those of a cataract. These symptoms include:

  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Halos and glare
  • Difficulty reading
  • Sensitivity to light

Posterior capsule opacification is a common complication of cataract surgery. It can happen months or years after getting your cataracts removed.

If you’re among the minority of patients who develop a secondary cataract and your vision is affected, your eye doctor may recommend a YAG laser capsulotomy.

A YAG laser capsulotomy is an outpatient procedure to fix posterior capsule opacification. During the procedure, your ophthalmologist will use a YAG laser to create a tiny opening in the cloudy lens capsule.

The small opening allows light to come through the lens capsule again, restoring your ability to see clearly.

False: You Must Have Cataract Surgery Right After Finding Out You Have Cataracts

If you’re diagnosed with a cataract, you may think you need cataract surgery immediately to remove it. But you don’t need to worry about cataracts until they begin to impact your vision.

Most cataract surgeons only recommend cataract surgery once cataracts begin impacting your vision. Cataracts start small and typically won’t affect your eyesight much in their early stages.

You should be able to delay the procedure until cataracts impact your vision significantly and prevent you from doing the things you love.

True: Cataract Surgery is Necessary When You Can No Longer Do the Things You Love

Initially, a stronger prescription for your glasses or contact lenses and brighter lighting can help you deal with cataracts. But when they start getting in the way of participating in your favorite pastimes or activities, your ophthalmologist may suggest cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery will allow you to enjoy golfing, hiking, camping, swimming, bird watching, and many other activities you love.

True: You Should Consider Cataract Surgery if Driving at Night Becomes  Unsafe

If a cataract has advanced to the point where it’s affecting your ability to drive at night, it’s time to consider cataract surgery. Once you’ve had cataract surgery, you can get behind the wheel again safely.

Clear vision after cataract surgery will help you regain your independence and significantly improve your quality of life.

False: The Same Kind of IOL is Used for All Cataract Patients

A standard monofocal lens implant is not the only IOL available. There are different types of intraocular lenses, including premium IOLs.

A monofocal IOL can only correct vision at one distance. Many patients choose to have their vision corrected to see far away.

After cataract surgery, you’ll still need glasses or contacts for reading and other close-up tasks if you choose a monofocal lens. Premium IOLs address multiple vision problems, including presbyopia, reducing or eliminating the need for glasses or contacts following cataract surgery.

Before cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will discuss the various IOL options and help you select the one that best meets your vision needs and lifestyle. Some of the different premium IOLs offered at Eye Physicians of Long Beach include:

PanOptix Trifocal IOL

If you want to reduce your dependence on glasses or contacts after cataract surgery, the PanOptix trifocal IOL may be right for you. The PanOptix lens allows you to see clearly at all distances by optimizing intermediate vision without compromising your ability to see at a distance or up close.

Toric IOL

Many cataract patients also have astigmatism. Astigmatism is a refractive error caused by an irregularly shaped cornea.

In a normal eye, the cornea is round like a baseball. But with astigmatism, the cornea has an egg shape like a football.

The uneven curvature of the cornea causes distorted or blurred vision at all distances. A toric IOL is specially designed to correct astigmatism during cataract surgery, reducing your dependence on visual aids.

Light Adjustable Lens

The Light Adjustable Lens is the only IOL that provides patients with customized vision after cataract surgery. The Light Adjustable Lens uses ultraviolet light to adjust it to your exact specifications using light treatments.

The Light Adjustable Lens is permanent after it’s implanted in your eye. You can test-drive multiple vision settings once your eye heals before choosing your final vision and having it locked into place during a last light treatment.

Best-in-Class Cataract Care

The trusted team at Eye Physicians of Long Beach specializes in cataract surgery and uses the most advanced technology. We’re dedicated to providing essential, up-to-date information regarding cataracts.

Do you suspect you have cataracts, or have you been diagnosed with cataracts? Schedule your appointment today at Eye Physicians of Long Beach in Long Beach, CA, to find out if it could be time for cataract surgery!