How Cataracts Develop
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. This lens, located behind the iris (or colored part of your eye) works just like the lens of a camera – focusing light images on the retina, which sends the images to your brain.
The human lens, made mostly of protein and water, can become clouded – so clouded it keeps light and images from reaching the retina. Eye injury, certain diseases, or even some medications can cause the clouding. But, in over 90% of cases, clouding is caused by the aging process. A cataract is not a “film” over the eye, and neither diet nor lasers will make it go away. The best way to treat a cataract is to remove the old, clouded lens and provide a replacement. A cataract can be the reason sharp images become blurred, bright colors become dull, or seeing at night is more difficult. It may also be why the reading glasses or bifocals that used to help you read, or do other simple tasks, no longer seem to help. Unfortunately, cataracts can’t be prevented, but removing the cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens can restore your vision and in many ways, significantly improve your quality of life. The time to have your cataracts removed is when the quality of your vision begins to put limits on your activities and enjoyment of life.
What is Presbyopia?
When your eyes were young, your natural lens was both transparent and flexible. Because of this, your vision was most likely stable until you reached your forties. Around that time, you may have noticed that you had to hold a many or a book farther and farther away to read it. Many people end up wearing a pair of reading glasses or bifocals to compensate for this aging of the eye. This condition is called “presbyopia” and eventually affects everyone, including those who are nearsighted, farsighted, have cataracts, or had perfect vision most of their life.
Crystalens™ is a new replacement lens (IOL) that works naturally with muscles in the eye to retain the eye’s ability to “accommodate” — to shift focus between nearby and distant objects. With older IOLs, patients lose this ability and require corrective eyewear to see clearly at near and intermediate distances.
Unlike rigid lenses, the flexible silicone Crystalens features innovative hinges that allow it to move with the eye’s muscles and accommodate seamlessly, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for vision correction. The Crystalens is implanted using the same, nearly risk-free cataract surgery techniques as with other IOLs.
Toric IOLs are specially designed for patients with astigmatism. Traditionally, surgical correction of astigmatism required making a series of small incisions (called LRIs) around the cornea to make it more spherical instead of football-shaped. Implanting toric IOLs often improves vision due to astigmatism without the need for these extra incisions, and also allows patients to enjoy a faster, more comfortable recovery.
Age-related Macular Degeneration
When we think of eye conditions that affect our vision, many of us have heard about glaucoma or cataracts. Very few people, however, are familiar with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of vision loss in people over age 60. Because scientists have not yet found a cure for the disease, it is important that you learn as much as possible about AMD and how to protect your eyesight.
What is AMD and how does it affect my vision?
AMD is a serious disease that may result in loss of central vision. The exact cause is not known. It occurs when there is damage to the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. AMD does not affect peripheral, or side vision. Although people rarely go totally blind from the disease, AMD can make it difficult to read, write, drive or perform other normal daily tasks. There are two kinds of AMD: “dry” and “wet”. Dry AMD affects about 90 percent of patients with AMD. It usually develops slowly, so people may not notice any change in their vision right away. Both eyes may or not be affected. A common early sigh of dry AMD is the formation of yellow deposits, called drusen, under the macula.
Dry AMD can sometimes turn into wet AMD. Wet AMD affect only 10 percent of AMD patients, but it is responsible for 90 percent of all severe vision loss from the disease. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels develop and leak blood and fluid under the macula, causing damage that leads to rapid loss of central vision. Treatment options include Avastin, Lucentis, and Macugen which are aimed at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth.
Some people do not produce enough tears to keep the eye healthy ad comfortable. This is known as dry eye.
Tears are produced by two different methods. One method produces tears at a slow, steady rate and is responsible for normal eye lubrication. The other method produces large quantities of tears in response to eye irritation or emotions.
Tears that lubricate are constantly produced by a healthy eye. Excessive tears occur when the eye is irritated by a foreign body, dryness and when a person cries.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
The usual symptoms include:
- Stinging or burning eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind
- Excess tearing
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Excess tearing from “dry eye” sounds illogical, but if the tears responsible for maintenance lubrication do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated. When the eye is irritated, the lacrimal gland produces a large volume of tears that overwhelm the tear drainage system. These excess tears then overflow from your eye.
Non-surgical treatments for dry eye include prescription eye drops such as RESTASIS® which can treat chronic dry eye caused by low tear production. Made by Allergan, RESTASIS® drops increase tear production so the eyes are better moisturized and less painful. If this method fails, small punctal plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage, or the drainage tubes in the eyes may be surgically closed.