A cataract is a change in clarity of the lens inside your eye; a gradual clouding that can dull your vision. As your eyes age, the lens becomes cloudier, allowing less light to pass through to your retina. The light that does reach the retina is diffused, resulting in blurry vision. A cataract develops in the crystalline lens, or envelope, of the eye. Imagine an envelope in your eye that is gradually being filled with a thick substance. As the envelope fills, a reduced amount of light is capable of passing through your eye. The process is usually gradual and can lead to blindness.

Cataract symptoms frequently include cloudiness, double vision and high glare. Often cataracts develop in one eye earlier than the other, but typically cataracts develop over time in both eyes. Again, without treatment cataracts may cause blindness. Cataracts are also associated with near-sightedness (myopia).

Age is often among the most common factors of cataract development. The odds of getting cataracts gradually increase steadily with age, ultimately reaching up to 90% of people who are above age 75. However, age is not the only trigger. There are other leading factors that can result in cataracts: eye disease, diabetes, environmental factors, medications, UV exposure and smoking.

Cataract removal is one of the most common operations performed in the United States. It also is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery. In about 90% of cases, people who have cataract surgery have better vision afterward. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that typically takes less than 10 minutes.

First, your surgeon will give you a number of medicated eye drops to prevent infection and inflammation and to minimize discomfort during the surgery. You won’t be put to sleep for the procedure, but you’ll likely receive a mild sedative to make sure you stay relaxed and comfortable throughout.

Then, after making a tiny incision in your cornea, your surgeon will use a probe the size of a pen tip to break apart and remove the old lens. The most common technique for removing cataracts is a state-of-the-art process called phacoemulsification, in which high-frequency sound waves are used to break the lens into removable pieces.

Once the old lens has been removed, your surgeon will insert the replacement intraocular lens (IOL) into your eye. Typically, the IOL is rolled up into the tip of an injector tool so that it can be inserted through the same tiny incision. Once injected, the IOL unfolds perfectly into place. Because of the small surgical incision, you probably won’t require stitches and your eye should heal itself naturally. However, you will most likely have a protective patch placed over your eye during recovery.

Your doctor will help determine the surgical treatment and lens that best fits your diagnosis.

Most health insurance providers typically cover monofocal IOLs. Monofocal IOLs can give you excellent vision at one distance, usually far. This allows people to see what they should see from a distance. However, you will probably still need glasses for near vision.

Advancements in lens technology give doctors the opportunity to offer patients a comprehensive range of specialized intraocular lenses (IOLs.). Specialized lenses include multifocal, astigamtism and dieffractive aspheric.

There is also an intraocular lens implant available for cataract patients that provides a single focal point throughout a continuous range of vision. In other words, it is a lens implant that uses the eye muscle to flex and accommodate in order to focus on objects at all distances.