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Cataracts Q&A with Dr. Viker

Q: What are the warning signs of cataracts?

Dr. Viker: Cataracts generally cause blurry vision that happens very gradually over time. Patients will typically report that they notice it has gotten harder to see at night or it feels like they are looking through smudged glasses.

Q: Is there anything I can do to avoid cataracts?

Dr. Viker: Cataracts are a normal aging process but there are steps to take that can help delay the onset of cataracts. The lens inside of the eye (where cataracts occur) is the UV filter of the eye, so wearing good sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat is beneficial in delaying cataracts. Patients who smoke tend to get cataracts sooner, so avoiding or quitting smoking is another excellent strategy.

Q: If I detect my cataracts early, can I avoid the surgery?

Dr. Viker: Once you have a cataract the only treatment is surgery. The good news is when you detect a cataract early it is often easier for the surgeon to remove since an early cataract is less dense than a llong-termcataract.

Q: Can people avoid cataracts and cataract surgery?

Dr. Viker: If you live long enough you will get cataracts and need cataract surgery. Most people get cataracts in their 60’s and 70’s, but some people get them earlier and some people get them later. The best course to delay cataracts is to wear UV protection, avoid smoking, and maintain a healthy diet and exercise program.

Q: What kind of symptoms could develop from a cataract?

Dr. Viker: Patients notice blurry vision, difficulty with night driving, and halos and glare when they have cataracts.

Q: What are IOLs and how do IOLs help after cataract surgery?

Dr. Viker: IOL stands for Intraocular Lens and it refers to the implant that is placed in the eye during cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, the natural crystalline lens that you were born with is removed and then an IOL is placed where the lens used to be. IOLs can be used to correct your distance prescription including astigmatism and in some cases can help you minimize your dependence on reading glasses.

Q: If you have a cataract does that mean you have to have it removed? When is the appropriate time?

Dr. Viker: Cataracts usually grow slowly over a period of years. This means when you are first diagnosed with a cataract you likely have a long window of time to decide when to proceed with surgery. The appropriate time to have cataract surgery varies by the patient but is typically when the cataract is impacting your vision at a significant level and/or disrupting your quality of life. Your medical insurance has guidelines that you must meet to qualify for the surgery as well.+

Q: Would prior medical conditions or medications be a problem for the cataract surgery?

Dr. Viker: Some medical conditions and medications do affect cataract surgery. For that reason, you are always required to have a pre-operative physical with your physician prior to surgery. If you have diabetes your blood sugar must be controlled as surgery cannot be performed safely if your blood sugar levels are too high. Some medications may need to be changed or stopped for a short period of time before your surgery. Your doctor and your cataract surgeon will advise you if any changes to medications are needed.