Cataracts are a natural part of the eye’s aging process, especially in those over age 60. The good news is treatment is quick and painless — and can help your vision return to normal.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are a common eye condition that occurs naturally as the eyes age. Cataracts develop when protein collects on the lens of the eye. Your eye lens helps focus light onto the retina, which sits at the back of your eye. Cataracts cloud the eye’s crystalline lens and can cause cloudy or blurry vision, as well as other eye issues.
As we age, it becomes more common for proteins to collect on the eye lens. This buildup of protein can block or deflect some of the light that typically passes through the crystalline lens. The result is a loss of transparency in the lens or cloudy vision.
Eye cataracts are extremely common. In fact, nearly two-thirds of adults over age 60 will develop cataracts at some point during their lifetime.
Types of cataracts:
- Nuclear sclerotic cataracts, which are age-related cataracts and the most common
- Cortical cataracts, which develop on the outside of the eye’s lens and most often occur in those with diabetes
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts, which form near the back of the eye
Cataract symptoms and causes
Common symptoms that can develop in those with cataracts include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Faded colors
- Excessive glare
- Poor night vision
- Double vision
- Frequent changes in vision
Having these symptoms does not mean you have cataracts. However, it’s still important to talk to your doctor, as eye issues can be signs of an underlying health issue.
What causes cataracts?
More than 24 million people in the U.S. have cataracts, and although they most commonly occur in those over age 60, cataracts can occur at any age. The causes of cataracts can be congenital (something you are born with) and vary.
- Age – Cataracts mainly occur in those over 60 as part of the eyes’ natural aging process. However, babies can be born with congenital cataracts.
- Smoking – Those who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of developing cataracts.
- Eye conditions – Cataracts can be caused or accelerated by previous eye injury, inflammation in the eye and other eye diseases.
- Genetics – Having a family member with cataracts increases your odds of developing cataracts.
- Certain health conditions – Some health conditions can increase your likelihood of developing cataracts, such as diabetes, obesity, extreme nearsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, which is why annual visits with your eye doctor are so important. Our eye care team, which includes optometrists and ophthalmologists, is experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide range of eye issues, including cataracts.
To diagnose cataracts, your eye doctor will perform a standard eye exam, which includes:
- A review of your medical history
- A review of your vision history
- Visual acuity testing (to measure distance and near vision)
- Visual field testing (to measure peripheral vision)
- Eye health evaluation, which may include eye dilation, a fluid pressure test and examining your eyes with a special microscope, called a slit lamp
Although cataracts cannot be prevented, there are things you can do to slow their progression. Your eye doctor will work with you to develop a plan to maintain your eye health.
As the area’s leading eye specialists, our dedicated and highly trained optometrists and ophthalmologists will assess your vision and develop a treatment plan to improve your eye health.
If it’s determined you have cataracts, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended, along with ongoing eye care:
Our eye surgeons (ophthalmologists) are specially trained to perform the most delicate eye surgeries and will work with you to create a personalized care plan for before, during and after your procedure. Our surgical techniques are designed to minimize discomfort and promote fast recovery.
Cataracts are typically treated through cataract surgery. Here at Geisinger, our cataract surgeons use a method called phacoemulsification, or clear-cornea cataract surgery. During this outpatient procedure, which requires no sutures and will typically have you home the same day, the damaged lens is removed and, in most cases, replaced with a clear, artificial lens. Using a microscope and tiny instruments, your surgeon will make a tiny incision to remove the clouded lens, which is then broken up and removed using sound waves. This procedure usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed each year and is highly successful in restoring vision.
Cataracts care at Geisinger
Our eye care specialists are here to provide you with compassionate care and the most advanced cataracts treatments available. We offer the latest and minimally invasive procedures for both diagnosis and treatment, so you can recover quickly and return to the things you love. We offer:
- Comprehensive eye care for all ages – Our eye care team, which includes optometrists and ophthalmologists, offers a full range of vision care, from routine eye exams to complex surgical treatments. From our littlest patients to adolescents to adults and seniors, we’re here to keep your eyes healthy as they change over time.
- Emergency eye care – Have an eye health emergency? Visit Geisinger’s Woodbine Lane clinic in Danville, where our board-certified optometrists will quickly diagnose and treat your eye problem or connect you with an ophthalmologist if further treatment is needed.
- Your partner in lifelong eye health – Our eye specialists are friendly, knowledgeable and experienced. Seeing a highly-trained eye doctor for regular eye exams is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your eyes’ health. Changes in eye health can be an early sign of chronic health conditions or diseases, and our skilled eye specialists can help you keep a handle on your overall health.
- Optical centers with friendly, helpful staff – Our vision centers are your one-stop-shop for your family’s eyewear needs. We carry frames and lenses for adults and kids, including many designer eyeglass brands. No appointments are necessary — just walk right in to one of our six locations. Find an optical center near me.
- Care for complex eye conditions and eye diseases – Our eye specialists are trained in diagnosing and treating all vision problems, including complex eye conditions.
- Leading-edge eye treatments – Should you or a loved one need eye surgery, our ophthalmologists offer the latest treatments as well as minimally invasive procedures and refractive surgery, including LASIK and laser eye surgery, so you have minimal recovery time. Many times, you’ll be home the same day as surgery.
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Berwick, PA 18603
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16 Woodbine Ln.
Danville, PA 17822
Geisinger Forty Fort Ophthalmology
190 Welles St. #122
Forty Fort, PA 18704
Geisinger Optometry Lewisburg
1717 Market St.
Lewisburg, PA 17837
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Lewistown, PA 17044
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126 Market Way
Mt. Pocono, PA 18344
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4203 Hospital Rd.
Coal Township, PA 17866
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132 Abigail Ln.
Port Matilda, PA 16870
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437 Market St.
Sunbury, PA 17801
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800 W. 4th St.
Williamsport, PA 17701