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How does Cataract Surgery improve your vision?

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How does Cataract Surgery improve your vision?

First let’s start with what is a cataract?  Your eye has a lens inside of it.  Early in life this lens is optically clear and as light passes through the lens it refracts the light which helps focus the light on the retina.  In order to see an image sharply, that light needs to pass through the eye without any obstruction and be focused precisely on the retina.

A cataract occurs when that natural lens starts getting cloudy as we get older.  At the beginning of a cataract, the alteration of the light passing through the lens will create a minimal change in vision.  As the lens continues to get more opaque it continues to degrade the quality of the image on your retina.  As the cataract progresses it interferes more and more with your vision and can start impacting your normal daily activities. 

Each person with a cataract can experience different degrees and types of symptoms.  For many, the initial complaint is difficulty driving at night because the cataract starts creating glare and halos from oncoming headlights which can be quite disturbing.  Another reason driving at night is one of the first problems noticed is that night driving is one of the most difficult distance vision tasks we do.  Even people with great vision find driving at night more difficult than driving during the day; when a cataract starts to degrade your visual quality, it might only be noticeable for night driving and not interfere much with vision at other times.

Other frequent early complaints include having more difficulty reading small print especially in poor lighting.  People often notice they read much better in sunlight then they can with incandescent light.  They also have more trouble reading a newspaper compared to a book because the paper tends to be not as white and the print not as black in a newspaper compared to a book.  This is an issue with Contrast Sensitivity.  Cataracts tend to degrade your contrast sensitivity, so you need more contrast between the print and its background in order to see it.  That is why the book (very white background and very dark black print) is easier to read than the newspaper (background less white and print less black).  It is also why you read better in sunlight than indoor light because the sunlight produces better contrast.

Once the cataract is causing a significant impact on your normal daily activities it is time to consider removing the cataract.  Just the presence of a cataract is not a reason to have cataract surgery.  The cataract should be causing some impact on your normal daily activities and there should be a reasonable expectation that removing the cataract is going to improve the activity with which you are having trouble.

View Video

Cataract surgery involves removing the natural lens of your eye which has now gotten cloudy enough to interfere with normal activities and replacing that lens with a clear artificial lens.  The artificial lens is made out of either plastic or silicone and when the surgery is done it is sealed inside the eye.  With the clear replacement lens there is no longer anything interfering with light transmission to the retina, so you should have improved contrast sensitivity and clearer overall vision.

Video of a narrated cataract surgery by Dr. Wnorowski

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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

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