Who is likely to get a cataract? Diabetics often develop cataracts. Eye injuries or inflammation can also encourage the protein deposits that lead to cataracts, as can some drugs such as prednisone (a corticosteroid used in inflammatory conditions like arthritis). Another big cause of cataracts is exposure to ultraviolet light and radiation. This is one reason why cataracts may develop as an individual ages. The more years a person spends exposed to the rays from the sun, the more likely they are to suffer this damage to the lens of the eye.
Don’t know if you’re getting a cataract? According to recent statistics, over a million Americans are diagnosed with this condition every year. When you have a cataract, you’re likely to notice a brownish tint to your vision. Other symptoms include colors that seem faded and a glare off your vision.
Cataracts are a gradual process that may not be noticed for a long period of time. Eventually, a buildup of protein disrupts the eye and then there’s no avoiding that there’s been a change in your sight.
Normally, when a cataract reaches this stage, some pretty tricky eye surgery is required to fix the problem. However, eye doctors at the Stanford University in California have found a way to use a laser to take apart a cloudy lens in the eye. They used the laser to break up the damaged lenses before taking them out and replacing them with an artificial lens.
The ophthalmological team says the results of the laser surgery were much better than traditional surgery in a number of ways. Removing cataracts with a laser increased safety, improved precision, and could standardize the procedure (instead of relying on different surgeons with different strengths and weaknesses to perform each surgery).
Cataract surgery is very common. About one-third of people in the developed world will have it done at some point in their lives. According to recent statistics, more than 1.5 million cataract surgeries are done every year in the United States, making it the most common surgical procedure.
During traditional cataract surgery, the cornea — the clear layer of tissue that covers the outside of the eyeball — must be sliced open, the lens broken apart and pulled out through a hole, and a plastic lens inserted in its place.
The research team at Stanford says a laser can be used to break up the lens with a few brief pulses, making it easier to remove and leaving a clear space for the plastic replacement. The device also uses a precise imaging system to help aim the laser.
The new laser procedure was tested in 50 patients and found to be safe. Talk to your family doctor or eye doctor to find out what your surgical options are.