Cataracts are not something that we usually start thinking about until we are older. Because of this, there are often a lot of misconceptions around them.
One question that people frequently ask is whether cataracts are painful. The short answer is: not really.
Cataracts grow inside of the lens of the eye slowly over time and don’t cause any pain. Though they aren’t usually painful, they will cause several symptoms including light sensitivity.
These symptoms leave patients feeling uncomfortable and may eventually mean the loss of vision. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts.
Certain kinds of cataracts can cause light sensitivity. This is about as close to “painful” as cataracts get.
Glare happens when the cataract forms in a certain pattern that causes light to scatter inside the eye. Instead of being uniformly focused onto the retina, the light bounces all over the inside of the eye.
Cataracts block and distort light, causing the well-known symptom of bad eyesight. What happens is the proteins inside of the lens of the eye break down.
Normally, these proteins are arranged in a very precise way. As they break down, the lens very gradually becomes opaque.
Difficulty Seeing in Low Light
Vision loss from cataracts typically occurs so slowly that it is almost imperceptible. But since the vision is lost due to light not being able to enter the eye, vision loss from cataracts is most noticeable at night.
Fading of Colors
Cataracts actually have a color to them. As they mature, they become more and more yellowish. This causes the light that does manage to pass through to take on a similar tint.
You may see colors as being more yellow, brown, or faded when you have cataracts.
Cataracts can cause some interesting effects on your vision as well. You may begin to notice halos forming around light sources. This can become dangerous around light sources like oncoming traffic headlights.
Cataracts may cause double vision in one eye, causing you to see many images. This can be incredibly disorienting.
In some circumstances, your vision may actually improve due to cataracts. As your cataract grows, it may cause the lens to swell, allowing light to focus on the retina better.
This benefit is short-lived as the cataract darkens and blocks more light. After this short-lived phenomenon, your vision will likely get worse again.
How Cataracts are Removed
Surgery to removed cataracts is performed in a surgical facility and typically takes about 15 – 20 minutes. The surgery is done with a mild sedation to keep you comfortable. Your stay at the facility is usually about two hours.
Removing cataracts involves removing the entire lens of the eye and replacing it. This is done by opening a small hole in the cornea, through which the surgeon can access the lens.
After removing the pieces of the lens, a preselected synthetic lens called an IOL takes its place. Premium lens implants can provide a fuller range of vision at distance and near and are also able to correct astigmatism. The opening in the cornea is then closed with tissue that’s left attached and recovery begins.