What are Cataracts?
A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear, natural crystalline lens of the eye. The lens is composed of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a highly organized pattern that allows light to pass through it with minimal distortion. As a result, the lens appears virtually clear. The lens can become cloudy (see Causes of Cataracts), blocking or scattering some light and preventing it from reaching the retina in sharp focus. This causes blurred vision and glare.
Treatment for Cataracts
The decision to proceed with cataract surgery should be made with your doctor after he/she measures your vision, examines your eye(s), and listens to your description of the visual problems you are experiencing.
With modern medical technology, cataracts are routinely treated safely and effectively using microsurgical techniques. Today, cataract extraction is one of the most successful surgical procedures-about 98 percent of all cataract surgical procedures result in improved vision. Before a physician recommends cataract surgery, a complete eye examination must be performed.
Types of Cataract Surgery
The most common and advanced cataract surgery technique is phacoemulsification or "phaco." The surgeon first makes a small incision at the edge of the cornea and then creates an opening in the membrane that surrounds the cataractous lens.
A less common method of cataract surgery is extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE). This procedure, which was developed before phaco, is often used for removal of very advanced cataracts that may be too hard to break up using phaco or in patients who have multiple eye conditions that render phaco a less desirable surgical option.
The above information has been extracted from the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery / Eye Surgery Education Council. For more information visit www.EyeSurgeryEducation.com.