Cataracts Explained Near San Fernando Valley, CA

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What are Cataracts?

A cataract happens when the lens in the eye starts to fog, which results in vision impairment. In some cases, it can cause complete blindness if not detected early and treated correctly. Unfortunately, cataracts are an unavoidable part of the aging process. They begin after the age of 40 because the proteins that make up the eye's lens usually start to deteriorate and/or clump together. The cloudiness eventually worsens and blocks light from arriving at the retina. Developing cataracts is very common, in fact, cataract surgery is the most common surgery performed in the U.S. Almost 2 million people undergo cataract surgery a year. The disease can progress fairly slowly so those in the onset stages usually don't know about it. This condition is an important reason why scheduling comprehensive eye exams at least every other year and yearly beginning at age 65 is vital to your overall ocular health.

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Our team at Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley are trained in diagnosing and treating cataracts in its beginning stages, as well as in supporting our patients in successfully managing advancing symptoms. Contact either of our offices today to schedule a comprehensive exam and see how we can help you get in control of your symptoms. Both of our locations in Encino and West Hills can help diagnose and treat cataracts.

What are the benefits of cataract treatments?

Looking to improve your vision? Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley offers advanced cataract treatment that can dramatically improve your quality of life. Our state-of-the-art facility is located right in the heart of San Fernando Valley, making top-notch care accessible for our community.

  • Enhanced Vision: Cataract surgery replaces the cloudy lens, providing you with clear, bright vision.
  • Quick Recovery: Most patients experience rapid recovery and can return to daily activities within a few days.
  • Improved Independence: Better vision means you can drive, read, and participate in activities you love without relying on others.
  • Lower Risk of Other Eye Conditions: Effective cataract treatment can reduce the risk of further eye complications such as glaucoma.

what are Symptoms of cataracts?

The initial symptom of cataracts is increased foggy eyesight that isn’t corrected by a patient’s current glasses prescription. Most patients begin to notice they require brighter light to be able to read. Other symptoms can include decreased night vision, unusual glare or halos, and eyesight with a general yellowish tint. Cataracts don’t cause discomfort and are generally there for a long time before they lead to any noticeable side effects. In most cases, the disease starts to develop at some point between the ages of 40 – 50, but many patients don’t suffer from any cataract symptoms before reaching their 60s.

what Causes cataracts?

Cataracts are an inevitable part of aging and the natural breakdown of the proteins within the eye's lens. This process happens to all people, though there are additional behavioral and health factors that often exacerbate the condition. Behavioral choices, such as using tobacco products, drinking too much or too often, and heavy sun exposure, have been associated with cataracts, as have health conditions, including diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure. Other factors that can aggravate the condition include:

  • Genetics
  • Some medications, like steroids
  • Degenerative myopia
  • Certain kinds of eye surgery
  • Injury to the eye

how do i know if i have cataracts?

To determine whether a patient has cataracts, an eye doctor has to conduct a comprehensive eye exam. The team at Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley has years of experience performing specialized diagnostic tests. The tests that detect cataracts are quite easy, relatively brief, and cause minimal discomfort.

To start, one of our ophthalmologists will complete a routine acuity test. This is usually done using an eye chart. Next, we might perform a contrast sensitivity test. This is very similar to a vision test, except it measures how easily the patient can see the contrast in images. Then, a slit-lamp exam is often conducted. For a slit-lamp exam, our team uses a special microscope that directs a very bright but particularly narrow “slit” of light into the eye to look at its more outward structures. To complete the tests, we will conduct the retinal exam, and sometimes, a potential acuity (PAM) exam. Before these tests, patients will need eye drops to dilate their pupils. Enlarging the pupils is very important because it allows us to check the entire surface of the lens for any signs of cataracts. If we find any cataracts, then we may perform an OCT or Ocular Coherence Tomography test to evaluate the central layers of the retina. If recommended for surgery, the OCT exam is very important to help determine which intraocular lens (IOL) a patient needs or may choose.

when should you have cataracts removed?

Once one of our ophthalmologists confirms a diagnosis of cataracts, we will begin to go over the different options for treatment. The treatments for cataracts are selected according to the advanced condition of the disease. In the beginning stages, a majority of patients simply need new prescription lenses. Patients with more advanced cataracts usually require a more advanced solution, femto laser assisted cataract surgery or FLACS. Our team is committed to offering each of our patients the most effective care.

Cataracts FAQ

How do I know which treatment for cataracts is right for me?
After a thorough consultation at Ophthalmology Associated of the Valley, our team of skilled eye care professionals will be able to effectively determine the best course of treatment for you. This may be dependent upon the severity of the cataract and if previous treatment methods have been tried.

What happens if cataracts are not treated?
If not properly treated, cataracts will continue to get worse over time. They will affect your vision and can cause additional eye problems. Eventually, this could lead to total blindness.

How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?
Following cataract surgery, it can take about 4 – 6 weeks to fully recover. It could also be 1 – 3 months before your vision becomes clear again. If surgery is necessary, our team of ophthalmologists will provide the aftercare instructions to ensure proper healing.

What are the early signs of cataracts?
Cataracts often develop slowly, making it difficult to notice changes immediately. However, early signs typically include cloudy or blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and frequent changes in prescription glasses. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's crucial to consult with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Can cataracts be reversed without surgery?
Currently, there is no proven method to reverse cataracts without surgical intervention. Some eye drops and alternative treatments claim to dissolve cataracts, but these claims are largely unsupported by scientific evidence. Surgery is the most effective way to treat cataracts and restore clear vision.

Are cataracts only age-related?
While age is a significant risk factor for developing cataracts, they are not exclusively age-related. Other factors such as diabetes, prolonged exposure to UV light, and certain medications can also contribute to cataract formation. A comprehensive eye examination can help determine the underlying cause of your cataracts.

take care of your cataracts for clearer vision

San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA people who experience any symptoms associated with cataracts or who haven’t recently received a comprehensive eye exam need to schedule an appointment with Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley right away. Particularly for people who are 40 years of age or more, having comprehensive eye exams regularly is vital to detecting and managing cataracts and multiple other eye conditions. With an early diagnosis, our team can design a personalized plan to manage your cataracts.

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