Frequently Asked Questions About Cataracts

  1. What is a cataract?
  2. What causes a cataract?
  3. Do cataracts ever go away on their own?
  4. Can cataracts be prevented?
  5. How fast do cataracts grow?
  6. Can cataracts develop in only one eye?
  7. How long does cataract surgery take?
  8. Is anesthesia used for cataract surgery?
  9. Are both eyes operated on the same day?
  10. How long is the cataract surgery recovery time?
  11. Do cataracts come back after surgery?
  12. Will my glasses be changed after surgery?


What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye (which is located behind the pupil and iris).

What causes a cataract?
Though cataracts can occur at any age, most cataracts develop when aging or trauma cause proteins within the lens to break down and become cloudy or opaque. Less often, cataracts develop before birth, by use of corticosteroids, or by an inherited disorder. Prolonged exposure to sunlight and smoking may contribute to cataracts.

Do cataracts ever go away on their own?
No, the only treatment is surgery.

Can cataracts be prevented?
Though there is no certain prevention known, there are possible steps that a person could take in attempts to help prevent them. Wearing protective eyewear, when active, can aid against trauma. Wearing 100% UV protective sunglasses can aid against sun exposure. Avoiding smoking can aid in avoiding cellular oxidization.

How fast do cataracts grow?
There is a great variability. Some take years to change, while others change in a few months.

Can cataracts develop in only one eye?
Yes.

How long does cataract surgery take?
Generally 10-15 minutes.

Is anesthesia used for cataract surgery?
The eye is thoroughly numbed using a topical eye drop anesthetic and patients receive mild IV sedation, to ensure a comfortable surgical experience. General anesthesia is not necessary. Most patients are able to sleep during the entire procedure.

Are both eyes operated on the same day?
No. The second eye is done when the first eye is safely out of the post-operative period.

How long is the cataract surgery recovery time?
This varies from a few weeks to longer in certain individuals. Normal activity generally resumes very shortly after surgery.

Do cataracts come back after surgery?
No, and the new lens stays clear. There is a normal clear membrane which is behind the lens called the posterior capsule. In some patients, the membrane may become cloudy in time. In this case, a simple laser procedure treats the cloudy membrane.

Will my glasses be changed after surgery?
Generally, yes.

If you still have questions about cataract surgery, or if you're ready to make an appointment, please contact us at The Cataract Institute at New Vision Eye Center today.

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