Q: What is a cataract and how does it affect your vision?
A: “A cataract is a clouding of the lens behind the eye’s pupil. When we are younger, the lens is clear and helps the eye to zoom from distance to close vision. With time, the lens becomes hazy, and then it is called a cataract,” explains Dr. Scallon. The cataract’s “clouding” causes vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or corneal refractive surgery like LASIK. As frightening as cataracts might sound, modern cataract surgery can usually restore vision lost to cataracts — and often can reduce dependence on eyeglasses as well.
Q: What are some signs and symptoms of cataracts?
A: “A cataract can form at any age; in rare instances, babies are born with them. Typically, they start to affect vision when people are in their 60s and beyond,” Dr. Scallon explains. “One of the first symptoms is “haloing” and glare around lights at night. It typically becomes more difficult to read and do fine work.”
Q: When is it time to consider cataract surgery?
A: “Cataracts are removed when they cause problems and interfere with the ability to do daily activities such as reading or driving, particularly at night. Patients no longer have to wait until their cataracts are ‘ripe.’
August is designated as Cataract Awareness Month. Dr. Scallon performs cataract surgery at Van Diest Medical Center, and is scheduled every third Wednesday in the Surgery Department.
Q: What happens during cataract surgery?
A: Surgery to remove a cataract is typically easier and safer than ever. It is done as an outpatient surgery under local anesthesia. It normally takes 10 minutes to remove the cataract and replace it with a new lens implant to help the eye focus after surgery. Patients are usually at the hospital for two to three hours, much of the time waiting for their pupil to dilate before the surgery and to be checked before they go home. A sedative is given so patients are generally very comfortable,” says Dr. Scallon. Most patients can resume normal activities the next day.