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What is a cataract and how to treat it?

cataract Eye Examination, Gilbert Eyecare

As our eyes age, they undergo a number of natural changes. These changes can range from inconvenient to annoying to concerning, but many are extremely common. One of the most frequent eye conditions is the development of eye cataracts. 

Cataracts can range in severity and any concern about them should be discussed with your eye doctor during your regular eye exams. Gilbert Eye care is proud to offer expert cataracts treatment in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. 

What is a cataract? 

There are different types of cataracts, but the basic definition is a buildup of protein in the lens of your eye which creates a cloudy appearance. This buildup of protein prevents light from passing through your eye clearly and can even cause you to lose some of your eyesight. 

Common types of cataracts: 

  • Nuclear cataracts – These can also be called a nuclear sclerotic cataract and is one of the most common. These form in the middle of the lens, or the nucleus, and over time the lens turns yellow and hardens. This prevents you from seeing small details and you may see halos. 
  • Cortical cataracts – These occur on the outer edge of the lens which is called the cortex. They begin as small white wedges and scatter light as they grow. A main symptom of this type of cataract is increased glare that may impact driving at night. 

Less common types of cataracts include: posterior subcapsular cataracts, anterior subcapsular cataracts, congenital cataracts, traumatic cataracts, secondary cataracts, radiation cataracts, etc.

What are the symptoms of cataracts? 

Each type of cataract has its own unique set of symptoms, but generally symptoms of cataracts include side effects from the reduction in light that gets through the eye. 

When light does not make its way unobstructed, it can cause vision to appear dimmer due to lack of contrast and can impact colors and vibrance. 

Often the light that is able to get through gets scattered through the area and can create blurred vision, halos around light sources, glare, double vision, and more. 

How are cataracts diagnosed? 

To diagnose cataracts, your optometrist will ask a variety of questions about your symptoms. They will then perform an eye exam and may also do some tests to determine the type of cataract and its severity. 

These tests may include a slit-lamp exam which uses a special microscope and bright light that allows your eye doctor to closely examine the different areas of your eye. A retinal exam may also be performed after dilation to allow your optometrist to see the retina and have a better view of any possible cataract. 

How are cataracts treated?

Early stage and minor cataracts often do not require immediate surgery. Updating your glasses prescription can help offset the vision changes for a time and your eye doctor will likely suggest increased frequency of eye exams to monitor your eye health. 

Unfortunately, surgery is the only true treatment for most severe cataracts, however the procedure is well practiced and very safe. 

Once your eye care professional or optometry practitioner has diagnosed you with cataracts, they will refer you to a surgeon that can perform the surgery. Many of the procedures are outpatient, so you will be able to go home the same day with specific after treatment instructions.

There are several methods of performing cataracts surgery, but all of them are fairly quick and involve removing the damaged, cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one. 

Recovery from surgery is quick for most people and you should notice fairly quickly that your vision is much improved. About a week or two after your procedure you should be able to resume all normal activities. 

After consulting with your eyecare and optometry team, like the Gilbert Eyecare doctors in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, your provider will help you determine the best next steps for your eye health. 

If you are concerned that you may need cataract surgery, contact the Dr. Gilbert eye doctors at 757.425.0200 / 757-622-0200 to schedule a screening.

Virginia Beach Location

Our Virginia Beach Eye Care office is conveniently located off Laskin Road in Hilltop.

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