Cataracts - Mesa, Arizona.
Consistently at the forefront of the most exciting developments in cataract
surgery, East Valley Ophthalmology specializes in the sophisticated mathematics
lens power calculations, and premium
lens implants used in cataract
surgery, offering our
patients options only recently available to others. We have established ourselves
as the practice where other doctors send their difficult and unusual cases,
and for all patients with high expectations. Nationally and internationally,
East Valley Ophthalmology is the clear choice for excellence in eye care. We invite you to make an appointment and learn more: 480-981-6111.
It is common for people to think of a cataract as a film that grows over
their eyes as they age, causing double or blurred vision. However,
a cataract does not form on the eye, but rather inside the eye.
The eye is a two-lens system. There's a lens on the outside, the front part of the eye, called the cornea, and a lens on the inside called the crystalline lens.
When the inside lens gets cloudy, that is called a cataract. No drops, special food, or treatments will make a cataract go away. The only way to "cure" a cataract is to remove it surgically and replace it with an artificial lens.
The word "cataract" derives from the Latin "cataracta" meaning "waterfall",
and is still used today when referring to a waterfall of tremendous size.
The term may have originally been used metaphorically to describe the similar
appearance of a mature cataract. For a person with a well-developed cataract,
life is viewed as though seen through a sheet of water or a window
that is frosted or fogged with steam.
How the Eye Works.
The diagram above shows the main parts of the eye.
- The cornea is the clear
covering of the front of the eye.
The sclera is the
"white part" of the eye.
- The iris is the "colored part" in
the center of the eye that works like a round muscle, expanding and contracting
to control the amount of light coming in.
- The pupil is the "black center" of the eye, simply a hole
created by the iris.
- Behind the pupil is the crystalline lens that directs light to the back of the eye. This is the part that becomes cloudly and then called a "cataract".
- At the back of the eye are light-sensitive nerves called
- The center of the retina is called the macula.
- Behind the macula,
the optic nerve takes nerve impulses to the brain where
they translated and understood as "vision."
The eye itself does not actually do the seeing. Rather, the eye acts as
a messenger that delivers light "messages" to your brain. Your
brain translates these messages into something you understand as vision, allowing
you to maneuver within your environment without bumping into things and to
enjoy our lovely Arizona sunsets.
In regards to cataract surgery, our primary focus is on the lens inside the
eye, called the "crystalline"
lens, held inside
a suspended bag, called the posterior capsule.
Similar to a Camera.
Your eyes functions similar to the parts of
a camera. Both the camera and your eye have an internal lens that focuses
an image onto a film. The retina can be compared to camera film, consisting
of a thin layer of photosensitive cells.
If the lens of a camera were smudged or scratched, the
pictures would turn out blurred. Similarly, as the crystalline lens in
your eye becomes cloudy and yellowed with a cataract, your picture of the
world is blurred and discolored.
Two Lenses — One Inside, One Outside
As we mentioned above, the
eye is a two-lens system.
The lens on the outside, at the front of the eye, is the cornea and the lens inside the eye, behind the iris, is the crystalline lens. Light
travels through the cornea and through the crystalline lens, bending as it
goes through each one, to concentrate upon the retina at the back of the eye.
The retina collects the variations in light transmission and
sends that to the brain. The brain then translates this into an image
of whatever is in front of you, allowing you to "see" it. The conscious
part of your mind within your brain does the actual seeing — it's almost
miraculous how it happens!
A perfect lens is transparent, meaning it is absolutely clear. If either lens
(the cornea or crystalline) is not clear and the light rays are unable to pass
through it completely, the retina collects inaccurate information. The image
sent to the brain is then difficult to translate and what we experience is
cloudy or blurry images. This could happen if you were to get oil in your eye
that temporarily coated the cornea. Or, if your
crystalline lens got cloudy, as is the case in forming a cataract.
Normal Aging of Your Eyes.
A clouding of the
eye's internal lens.
Cataracts are a natural part of aging. Almost everyone reaching their
mid-sixties has some form of a cataract in one or both eyes. Cataracts do not
cause irreversible blindness. They do not spread from one eye to the other.
They are not a growth that covers the surface of the eye, a tumor or a disease,
but simply a change in the clarity of the natural lens. Most
people who develop cataracts are older, although they may happen for
various reasons at any age.
What Causes Cataracts?
As with most things that occur in the human body, the exact cause is unclear.
People have been getting cataracts as far back as medical history has been
recorded, so this is not a modern phenomenon. Simply by living long enough,
everyone eventually gets cataracts. Cataracts are as much a part of aging as
getting wrinkles or gray hair.
Very occasionally, people are born with cataracts, and
sometimes a cataract develops in an eye after a significant trauma, usually
from an impact of some sort, especially from small round objects like a racquetball
or golf ball (wear protective goggles when near these sports!). Exposure
to excessive X-rays, intense heat or possibly too much sunlight may also
cause cataracts. Smokers tend to have a higher occurrence of cataracts than
non-smokers. Other contributing factors may include family history, previous
eye surgery, puncture wounds, medications such as corticosteroids, chronic
inflammation known as uveitis, diabetes, or even laser vision correction.
However, aging seems to be the main culprit.
How Do Cataracts Develop?
anterior cortical cataract
looks like a star
mature or "ripe" cataract
The lens is made of mostly water and protein
molecules that arranged in a special manner to create a clear window-like partition,
which allows light to pass through.
As we get on in years, these protein molecules begin
to clump together, resulting in a gradual clouding of the lens. This cloudiness
grows denser until no light can pass through the lens.
Not all cataracts develop the same. The most common type involves an even
clouding of the entire lens. Others may develop in only one area and then spread
out from there.
Cataracts may take years to form or they may occur rapidly
within a few months. And, while cataracts can affect both eyes at the same
time, they may each develop at a different rate.
ago, the gradual development of a cataract was referred to as "ripening" — a
ripe cataract was completely opaque (with no light going through it). Surgeons
used to wait until a cataract was ripe before removing it, and then it was
excised through a large incision in one piece with no replacement. Patients
gained light perception and the determination of hand-movements only. Eventually,
very thick "cataract glasses" evolved, allowing people to gain a measure of
This is no longer the case. Cataract surgery is now performed
whenever the patient's vision is impaired enough to interfere with
normal functioning. Modern cataract surgery involves a tiny incision and the
lens is pulverized into powder as it is suctioned gently from the eye, and
replaced by an artificial lens. Patients now have the option of accommodating Premium
Lens Implants and Astigmatism
What Are The Symptoms?
Common cataract symptoms include poor night vision, a bothersome glare produced by bright lights, painless blurring of vision, and a fading or yellowing of colors.
As this usually develops slowly over a period of years, it might not be
noticeable, with little or even no perceived effects for quite some
time. However, eventually, vision becomes a little blurred, like looking
through a smudgy piece of glass. You might notice that you are becoming more
nearsighted, or experience double vision (even with one eye covered). Light
from the sun or a lamp might cause an uncomfortable glare, and when you drive
at night, the oncoming headlights may seem overly irritating, causing you
to stress over making your way safely. It becomes harder to read and do other
normal tasks, and you may go through a series of changes in your eyeglass
cloudiness, glare and double vision
Colors may not appear as brilliant as they once did. People might comment
on the fact that you are now wearing brighter clothing, heavier make-up, or
your hair is dyed an unfamiliar hue. These are all very natural, normal
compensations for viewing your world through cloudy-yellowed cataracts.
You don't have to be a senior citizen before noticing these symptoms. People
can have age-related cataracts in their forties and fifties, although those
are most often in the beginning stages and rarely affect vision. It is typically
during the mid-sixties when vision becomes impaired enough to cause interference
and strongly suggest having cataract surgery.
How Are Cataracts Detected?
Although you may think you have a cataract, there
is only one way to know for sure, by having an eye examination by a qualified
ophthalmologist. If you are over sixty years old, you should have an eye examination
at least once every two years. Once each year is not too much.
Your eye exam should absolutely include dilating your pupils. This means
drops are put into your eyes that make your pupils open up, or enlarge temporarily
in a fixed position. The pupil is the internal opening between the front
and back of the eye, like a tiny window that you look through. Minute muscles
make the iris close or open, thus controlling the amount of light coming
A cataract can be detected without dilating the pupils, but dilating the
eyes allows plenty of light onto the back of your eye, which is essential
for finding potential problems. Getting a good view of the retina and optic
nerve is used for early detection of eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular
When Should Cataracts Be Removed?
Just having a cataract does not mean that you must undergo surgery. Even if your ophthalmologist finds a cataract, you may not need to have it removed for several years. In fact, you might never need cataract surgery. A change in your eyeglass prescription may satisfactorily improve vision
for a while. Magnifying lenses or stronger lighting may facilitate daily activities. However, if your cataracts interfere with your everyday activities, such as reading or driving, you do not have to put up with them.
The time to consider cataract surgery is highly individual. As a rule, when your vision falls below 20/40, you will notice a significant impact on daily functioning. To what degree will vary from person to person. A pilot, for example, may require surgery in the earliest stage of cataract development, while someone with considerably lesser demands might not be bothered by a much denser development.
Eventually, safety considerations may be a factor, as a developing cataract steadily limits a person's involvement in a normal, independent lifestyle.
Cataracts can be hazardous when they substantially interfere with your ability to see street signs, traffic lights or freeway exits, drive at night, step off curbs or steps, recognize faces, cook, iron, read medicine labels, or write checks, and sign binding documents.
As this is a highly individual matter, it is one you should discuss with your physician. By having your vision tested regularly, you can gather enough information to make an informed decision.
Are Cataracts Harmful To Your Eyes?
Leaving a cataract in the eye is not harmful except in very rare situations. In most cases, surgery can be postponed for as long as the patient desires, or not done at all. The only side effect would be the less clarity of vision. Over time,
cataracts do increase in size and hardness, and if the cataract is very
advanced, the surgery can be more difficult to perform. However, even
then, the result is usually very good.
How Are Cataracts Treated?
Cataract surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.
Cataract surgery requires removing
the cloudy lens and replacing it with a new clear implantable lens, called
an intraocular lens (IOL) or lens implant.
Patients with beginning cataracts, may notice that their vision is sometimes
improved by using different eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, or even stronger
lighting. These options do not really treat the problem of the crystalline
lens becoming clouded. There are no medications, eye
drops, exercises, or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear.
Your cataract needs to be removed
when it interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading,
or watching TV. It is important that you and your eye surgeon make that decision
together. In most cases, waiting until you are ready to have cataract surgery
will not harm your eye. If you have cataracts in both eyes, your surgeon will
remove them one at a time in order to achieve the best possible results.
it is necessary to remove a cataract, even if it doesn't seem
to cause problems with your vision, if it prevents a thorough
examination of the retina or optic nerve, or treatment of another eye problem,
such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
on the following links to learn more about CATARACT SURGERY.
Lens Implants and the Correction
of Astigmatism, in conjunction with IOL
Power Calculations are
advancements in cataract surgery that East Valley Ophthalmology has
actively participated in developing.
The eye specialists of East Valley Ophthalmology perform advanced
technology diagnostic testing and treatment, as well as taking
the time necessary to provide each patient with information needed
to fully understand their condition and to achieve their best possible
If you would like further information, please call our office at:
East Valley Ophthalmology
Eye Doctors - Mesa, Arizona
If you or a family member
or friend have not had a recent routine eye examination, have a specific eye condition that needs addressing, or are looking for
an eye specialist or professional eye consultant please take a moment to Request an Appointment.