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Q & A with Dr. Knapp regarding Cataracts

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Q: What are warning signs of cataracts? Is there anything I can do to avoid getting cataracts? Does diet play a role? Lifestyle?

A: Cataracts cause your vision to get more blurry or hazy. This could result in eye strain but not always. Cataracts, in general, don’t cause pain or any other symptoms besides blurry vision. Cataracts are basically an aging change in our body. Nutrition probably play a small role since good nutrition helps keep us healthy and the healthier we are, the better all parts of our body will do. If you smoke stop! Smokers, on average, get cataracts at a younger age than non-smokers. UV light also seems to bring cataracts on sooner also, so when you are outside on sunny days always wear sunglasses, especially if you are going to be outside for a long period of time.

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

A: No, if a person’s cataracts get bad enough the only treatment to improve the vision is surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations done in this country and is one of the most highly successful. The recovery from surgery is also very easy, in most cases. While no one looks forward to having any surgery, cataract surgery is certainly not something to be fearful of.

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

A: IOLs or intraocular lens implants were first used in the 1980’s. IOLs are an artificial lens that is implanted to replace the natural lens of the eye which is where a cataract forms and thus is removed during cataract surgery. Prior to their development people had to wear extremely strong glasses after cataract surgery. Now people often only need glasses to read with after cataract surgery.

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

A: When a cataract is still small, changing a person’s glasses can offset the blurry vision created by the cataract. As a cataract gets bigger changing the prescription in a person’s glasses becomes less effective. When the vision with glasses isn’t good enough for a person to see to do the things that are important in their lives, then cataract surgery needs to be considered.

Q: If you have cataracts in both eyes, do you operate on both at the same time, or separately? And how much time is there between?

A: Cataract surgery is almost never done at the same time. A surgeon will want to wait and make sure the first surgery has gone well before doing the second eye if needed. Usually, 3 to 6 weeks is the waiting period between surgeries.

Q: After cataract surgery, what is the typical recovery time?

A: Usually, 24 hours after surgery a person is seeing much better than before surgery. If you aren’t that doesn’t mean the surgery was a failure because everyone heals differently. It does sometimes take a week or more before the vision reaches it final improvement level.

Q: Once you have gone through cataract surgery, is the correction permanent, or can cataracts reappear?

A: You can only have one cataract in an eye. The natural lens of the is where a cataract forms and it is removed during surgery so there is no place for a second cataract to grow. While the vision tends to be stable after surgery, your glasses prescription will probably need small changes throughout your life.