The unavoidable (if you live long enough) eye problem that is eluded by few people is the cataract. The condition is really quite variable and affects people in many different ways all of which have the potential to cause blindness if left unchecked.
A cataract affects a part of the eye called the lens. This clear lens is located right behind the pupil which is the seemingly black hole in the center of the colored part of the eye. The lifelong function of the lens is to adjust your vision so it can focus your eyes from a near point to distance maintaining clear, comfortable vision. You do not have to think of it consciously because the vision system is uniquely designed to occur automatically thus allowing proper vision function. While most of the organs of the body are systematically reproduced and maintained over a period of decades, the one and only original part of body that is not changed is the lens. That’s right, you only get one for your whole lifetime.
Just as clear plastic will turn yellow when exposed to sunlight for a period of time, the clear lens of the eye when exposed to many years of sunlight and constant focusing* will begin to turn yellow. When this discoloring reaches a point where it prevents your doctor from prescribing glasses to adjust for your focusing problems, your doctor may recommend that you have surgery to compensate for this issue.
When the lens is surgically removed by your ophthalmologist, it is replaced by what is called an implant. This lens power is predetermined so when your surgery is over there will be only a small need for glasses. If you are very nearsighted or very farsighted your vision will be much improved. Perhaps you will see better than you have seen in decades.
Do not fear the word cataract. It does not have to mean the end of vision. The operation is now quite routine and the replacement lenses are far superior to those available years ago. You will soon enjoy the excitement of bright, clear, focused vision again and resume your favorite activities.
*Note: Cataracts can also develop due to traumatic eye injury, as a side effect of many medications, and from overexposure to sunlight. Your doctor may warn you of this and advise you to have a thorough eye examination especially if you are using certain medications like steroids.
- Dr. Steven