The eye has a lens (crystalline lens) that helps to focus light onto the retina for vision.  Cataract is a condition that results in clouding of this lens.  This clouding is natural and nearly everyone who lives long enough will develop some amount of cataract.  Cataracts can also be present at birth or develop during childhood.  Cataracts can be caused or worsened by diseases like diabetes, by medications, trauma, smoking and exposure to ultraviolet light.

Cataracts can affect vision in many ways.  They can cause the vision to become blurry or foggy.  They can affect night vision causing halos or starburst patterns around lights and decreased vision in the dark.  Cataracts can also dull the brightness of colors and add a yellow tint to colors. 

In their most extreme form, cataracts can cause a complete loss of vision.  They can cause decreased productivity on the job and difficulty driving.  Cataracts can cause frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions.  Fortunately, the effects of cataracts can be reversed by removing them.

Surgery is required to remove cataracts that are causing significant symptoms and causing a disruption in your daily activites. Cataract surgery is a 10-15 minute outpatient procedure that removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a lens implant.  The lens implants have focusing power and some implants can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses after the surgery.  Cataract surgery is available at Helena Eye Clinic along with lens implant options for correcting astigmatism and the need for reading glasses after cataract surgery.

Cataracts can effect the treatment of other eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.   In these conditions it is important to have a clear view of the retina and optic nerve.  Cataracts can interfere with getting a good view of these structures during an exam.  When the cataracts prevent viewing the inside of the eye, your eye doctor may recommend that they be removed. 

As you enjoy the beginning days of summer, don’t forget to have  your eyes examined to maintain a vision of health.