Archive for the ‘Patient Care’ Category

Identifying Cataracts with these Six Warning Signs

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cataracts affect approximately 25 million Americans age 40 and older, and by age 75, nearly half of all Americans will have cataracts.

Cataracts will progressively worsen over time, so it’s crucial to understand what cataracts are and educate yourself about the stages of progression.

Truly understanding will help you treat symptoms early and help slow the progression of cataracts.

What is a Cataract?

As we age, the natural lenses of the eye begin to harden and yellow, becoming cloudy. This now opaque area over the lens is called a cataract. Cataracts will prevent light rays from passing through the lens, which makes it difficult to see.

Cataracts range in terms of severity, and the correct treatment depends on the degree of advancement and type of cataracts you have. Some of the symptoms that accompany cataracts include the following:

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Sensitivity to light and glare.
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities.
  • Seeing “halos” around lights.
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
  • Fading or yellowing of colors.
  • Double vision in a single eye.

Keep reading for more details about the main warning signs and symptoms.

Cloudy vision.

One of the most apparent signs of early-stage cataracts is the appearance of noticeable fuzzy spots in your field of vision. These spots typically start as relatively small abnormalities, but over time they will worsen, making daily activities harder than before.

If you experience sudden and continual cloudy vision, make an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Increased light sensitivity.

For people with emerging cataracts issues, discomfort with bright lights will become increasingly noticeable and challenging.

Consult your doctor if bright lights cause you to squint or close your eyes, or if you develop sudden headaches from bright light.

Difficulty seeing at night.

Patients with the beginning stages of cataracts also report a gradual decline in nighttime vision. Cataracts often cause vision to darken or dim and may also lead to slight hints of a brown or yellowish color.

These early changes are not usually noticeable during the day when there’s plenty of light to compensate for dimming vision but will be instantly noticeable at night.

The appearance of halos and glare.

As the eye lens hardens and becomes cloudy, cataracts sufferers may notice halos and glare in their field of vision. Light passing through cataracts is diffused, causing glare and halos around bright sources of light.

Seeing double.

Diffraction from the lens clouding in a cataract can actually lead you to see two or more images of a single object. Which is not only bothersome but can impair vision.

[If you think cataract surgery is for you, click this link for the next steps in the process!]

Eye exam results.

In the earliest stages of cataracts, a person may have difficulty noticing changes to their vision. That’s why regular eye examinations are strongly recommended for older adults. Ophthalmologists can detect the presence of cataracts before sufferers report any noticeable vision problems.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to make an appointment with an eye doctor right away. Be sure to keep in mind that cataracts will cause significant changes in vision and it’s important to get a handle on it as soon as possible.

Know that you don’t have to continue suffering from cataracts, complete our simple online contact form today and let’s get you scheduled for an evaluation.

Cataract FAQ’s

Who gets cataracts? What are cataracts? What are the symptoms? Can they be prevented? What can I expect with surgery?

These are some of our most commonly received questions about cataracts and cataract surgery.

Keep reading for some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about cataracts and cataract surgery and maybe get some of your questions answered in the process!

What is a cataract?

A leading cause of vision loss in older adults, a cataract occurs when the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded. This can occur in one or both eyes, though it cannot be transferred or spread from one eye to the other.

When a cataract obstructs the lens, it cannot focus properly on images, which results in blurred or dull objects.

Who gets cataracts?

Most cataracts develop over time and affect people over age 50. About half of the U.S. population has a cataract by age 65, and nearly everyone over age 75 has at least a mild cataract in one or both eyes.

Occasionally cataracts are found in younger people, including the rare instance of newborns who have congenital cataracts.

What causes cataracts?

Many factors can contribute to the development of cataracts. Chemical changes can occur within the eye lens that cause it to become cloudy. This is usually due to aging; it may be heredity, from an injury, or due to disease.

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, cigarette smoking, or the use of certain medications are all risk factors for the development of cataracts.

[Need help choosing some protective eyewear this summer? Check out this blog post!]

Can cataracts be prevented?

Currently, there are no proven methods to prevent cataracts from forming.

This condition cannot be prevented or corrected by medication – the most effective way to treat a cataract is through surgery to completely replace the old, clouded lens with a new, artificial lens.

What are the symptoms?

There are several common signs that a patient has developed a cataract, including:

  • Blurry vision.
  • Trouble seeing well at night.
  • Glare or halos around objects.
  • Sensitivity to bright light.
  • Double vision.
  • Loss of color vision – Colors might look yellow, brownish, or faded.
  • Needing new glasses or contact lens prescriptions more often.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

A comprehensive eye exam, performed by a primary eye care doctor, will reveal if a cataract is present. The eye doctor can refer you to a surgeon, like Dr. Harris, for a comprehensive cataract evaluation, where he or she will offer an expert opinion for treatment options.

Need a primary eye care doctor? Please visit the Affiliated Physicians page to help you find a doctor who works closely with our team.

How are they treated?

If a cataract develops to the point that your daily activities are affected, you will be referred to an eye surgeon who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataract. The surgery can generally be done in the surgeon’s office using local or topical anesthesia.

Using a small incision, the surgeon will remove the clouded lens and, in most cases, replace it with an intraocular lens implant. Medication is generally placed in the eye after surgery, and the eye may be patched.

Is surgery the only way to treat cataracts?

Your optometrist can prescribe changes in your eyewear that will help you see more clearly until surgery is necessary.

When eyewear no longer provides adequate eyesight, surgery is the only proven means of effectively treating cataracts. Luckily, surgery is relatively uncomplicated and has an excellent success rate.

What happens after surgery?

Recovery time is typically one or two days. Still, every person is unique, and your healing experience will depend on your eye’s underlying health and the ease of your surgery. That’s why it is imperative to plan regularly scheduled visits for your surgeon and technician to monitor your progress.

Blurry or foggy vision is typical immediately after surgery, and your eyes may feel slightly sore or gritty. These symptoms will improve, and irritation will lessen within a few days.

Cataract surgery is safe and effective, and we make the process as painless as possible at Cataract Consultants.

If you have more questions or are considering surgery, please contact the team at Cataract Consultants right away. You are worth the investment! 

Choosing the Right Pair of Sunglasses to Protect your Eyes and Prevent Cataracts

Summer is quickly approaching, and while summer means beautiful weather and beach days, it also means dangerous UV rays.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause cumulative damage to your eyes as you age, but you can protect your vision by wearing sunglasses every day, even in cloudy weather.

Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best sunglasses to prevent age-related cataracts and other eye issues over time.

Ensure you are getting the right protection.

The sun and its rays provide many benefits. In small doses, it boosts vitamin D, contributes to stronger bones, aids in a better night’s sleep, improves mood, and helps build a healthier immune system. Unfortunately, the sun also gives off UV radiation that you can’t see or feel, and too much of it can cause significant health problems like sunburn, skin cancer, and severe eye damage. 

Before you even check the price tag of potential sunglasses, read the label. Do these glasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays? If not, leave them on the rack and keep looking. Too much UV light can cause cataracts, destroy the retina, and damage the lining at the back of the eyes.

Check the fit. 

For most of us, style is probably at the top of our priority list for sunglasses. But there are more important things to worry about, especially when it comes to protection. Your sunglasses must be fitted. A pair that doesn’t fit well can let UV rays seep onto your skin and into your eyes. Also, if you choose sunglasses that are comfortable and fit your face properly, you’ll be more inclined to wear them.

Sunglasses that wrap around your eyes are an excellent choice as they can help block stray UV light. They can also keep out sand and other types of debris; those things can be just as dangerous. 

Go big or go home.

In most cases, bigger doesn’t always mean better. When it comes to sunglasses, however, bigger is often your best bet. Obviously, with bigger glasses, you are going to get more coverage, and more coverage means more protection for your eyes. 

Polarized vs. non-polarized.

Polarized lenses reduce glare at the beach, in the snow, or out on the water. But they don’t take the place of UV protection. 

You might see better through them when there’s a lot of light. But they can make it harder to see things like dashboards or screens. It’s important to consider what will work best for you, just make sure that you understand that polarized doesn’t equate to eye protection. 

Consider darkness and color. 

Just because a lens is dark doesn’t mean it blocks all UV rays. So again, it’s crucial to research and read labels. 

Your pupil controls how much light gets in. When you wear darkened lenses, the pupil opens more to let in more light. If your sunglasses aren’t built to block UV rays, you can let more rays into the eye and cause even more damage.

So, what are the best sunglasses for you?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the best sunglasses will offer the following:

  • 100% UV protection.
  • Scratch-resistant lenses.
  • High optical quality.
  • A larger frame that offers more coverage of eye area.

So be sure all these items are on your shopping list!

When should you wear sunglasses?

The also AAO recommends wearing sunglasses anytime you are outdoors, particularly in the summer, when the level of UV radiation is tripled. Even if it’s a cloudy day don’t leave your glasses at home.

Older people may find the need to wear sunglasses more often than before. This is because the light that passes through the cornea and lens is more scattered, which is a result of the aging process. While this is distracting and annoying it can be alleviated with the use of proper eye wear.

Don’t forget to visit your doctor!

Make it a priority to schedule yearly eye exams, even if your vision seems to be healthy and clear. Routine visits allow your eye care professional to look for signs of cataracts and other vision disorders. 

And remember, when it comes to shopping for sunglasses, there is often science behind a higher price tag. With this must-have accessory, you truly get what you pay for. The right pair is out there, and they should include both protection and a comfortable price point. 

We’re happy to guide you to the best pair of sunglasses when you’re ready to take the plunge. But don’t delay—summer is almost here, and it’s only going to get brighter! 

If you need some assistance with sunglasses or need to discuss cataract surgery options, contact the experts at Cataracts Consultants today! 

What you Can Expect When Having Cataract Surgery

Before having any kind of procedure, it is a good idea to gain a sufficient understanding of the process. This will ensure that you and your surgeon are on the same page, eliminating any potential doubts or questions.

Although the thought of cataract surgery can be scary and overwhelming, it is extremely safe and effective, as millions of surgeries are performed every year. According to the Ophthalmology Times, in the United States, some 9,000 ophthalmic surgeons were performing 3.6 million cataract surgeries in 2015 and those numbers have increased every year. Can you imagine how many procedures were performed in 2019?

So not only are these surgeries safe but they are extremely successful as a quick outpatient operation that will restore the vision loss due to the clouding of the lens. So if you are considering cataract surgery, keep reading to get a glimpse into what you can expect before, during, and after your surgery.

Before.

Before your surgery, your eyes will be examined externally and internally. This will include a typical eye exam that is done with a light but may also include a laser scan of the eye or an ultrasound examination of the inside of your eye. These tests will determine the health of your eye if any other conditions are present, and the best type of lens implant for you.

Choosing a lens implant may be part of the preparation process once you have decided to have your cataracts removed. Your physician will work with you to select the best lens for your specific condition.

During this time you will want to plan ahead for the day of your surgery. Be sure to arrange for transportation to and from the surgery center as it won’t be safe to drive for 24 hours because of anesthesia. Some other things you may want to do to prepare include:

  • Ask your doctor any questions and talk about any current medications you may be taking.
  • Do not eat or drink past midnight (unless otherwise instructed by your doctor).
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • Pre-cook your meals so you don’t have stress about food as you heal.
  • Schedule some days off of work.

During.

The first step of the surgery begins with the doctor dilating your pupils. You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the area or be given a mild sedative to help you relax. During the surgery itself, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. There are various methods for the actual procedure that is dependent upon your surgeon, but most surgeries are completed using an ultrasound probe, or advanced laser technique. Once the cloudy lens is removed, the artificial lens is implanted.

According to Harvard Health, you will spend two to three hours at the surgical facility. The procedure itself lasts approximately 30 minutes. Afterward, the surgeon may cover the eye with a bandage or shield, which can be removed later that day or on the following day. You will recuperate in the recovery area for about 30 minutes, and then will receive instructions on how to care for your eye

After.

Recovery time is typically one or two days, but every person is unique and your healing experience will depend on the underlying health of your eye and the ease of your surgery. That’s why it is imperative to plan regularly scheduled visits for your surgeon and technician to monitor your progress. Blurry or foggy vision is typical immediately after surgery, and your eyes may feel a little sore or gritty. These symptoms will improve, and irritation will lessen within a few days.

Cataract surgery is safe and effective, and at Cataract Consultants, we make the process as painless as possible.

You don’t have to continue suffering from cataracts, complete our simple online contact form today and let’s get you scheduled for an evaluation.

Four Steps to Finding the Right Cataract Surgeon for you

If cloudy vision from cataracts is making your daily activities more complicated, it’s time to consider having cataract surgery.

Choosing the right eye surgeon is the most critical step you will take during your surgery journey. And the right surgeon can make the difference between a ‘meh’ outcome and an amazing one.

Follow these four steps to find an expert and qualified eye surgeon that fits your needs. 

Talk to your regular eye doctor.

Talk with your current eye doctor about who they may recommend for your surgery. Your doctor will have some good references for you, depending on what you need. For example, you may decide to get a premium lens instead of a traditional lens, or you may want bladeless surgery instead of manual incision. These are essential factors to consider before you take the next step.

Get recommendations from family and friends.

Cataract surgery is so common that you more than likely have some friends, neighbors, or family members who have undergone the procedure. When you decide it’s time for surgery, ask around for some recommendations. Here are a few questions to ask someone who has undergone standard cataract surgery:

  • Did the surgeon take the time to explain the procedure, including potential complications?
  • Was the patient fully aware of all options, including the types of lenses that were available?
  • Did the patient feel comfortable and safe before, during, and after surgery?
  • Was the surgeon’s staff courteous and knowledgeable throughout the entire process?
  • Did they explain the billing process?
  • Was the outcome successful? If not, why not?
  • Was follow-up care given promptly and clearly?

As you sort through recommendations of friends and family using these questions, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices.

Research online.

When you are looking for a place for dinner, past reviews are important. When searching for a cataract surgeon, reviews are crucial, so use patient testimonials to your advantage.

Many sites allow former patients to describe their experience with surgeons and practices. You can look for reviews on Google, Yelp, and more. Positive reviews are often posted on the surgeon’s website. While they provide valuable information, keep in mind that these are subjective. Also, keep this in mind while reading negative reviews as well. Evaluating reviews from strangers can be tricky. However, if you see a trend of negative reviews and unhappy patients, it’s best to choose another surgeon. As usual, always follow your gut instinct.

Things to consider while searching.

You should consider several factors in selecting the right surgeon to perform your operation. These include:

  • Credentials: The cataract surgeon you choose should be board certified in ophthalmology. This means your surgeon has the training and skills necessary to perform eye surgery.
  • Experience: The more experience a surgeon has in removing cataracts, the better prepared he or she is to handle and prevent complications.
  • Surgical Options: Your cataract surgeon will replace the lens in your eye with an artificial one. Several types are available, so be sure to discuss all of this with the surgeon. Make sure the doctor you choose will implant the kind of lens that you want and is best for you.

When it comes to choosing the best cataract surgeon for you, the most important thing is to not rush to a decision. Investigate your options and do the proper research to ensure that you are entirely comfortable with your choice. Be cautious and spend as much time as necessary to make the right choice.

Laura L. Harris, M.D., F.A.C.S., and her team have been providing exceptional specialized surgical care to patients in the Wilmington area since 1998.

Having performed her own father’s cataract surgery, she knows how important the decision is to every patient and understands that the complete experience, from the initial consultation to post-surgery follow-up, should be conducted with the highest quality of care and consideration.

If you are ready to take your eyesight to the next level, contact us today!

Five Things you Need to Know About Cataract Surgery

Cataracts are an eye condition that causes the lens of the eye to become clouded, reducing vision. Unlike glaucoma, which affects the optic nerve and cannot be reversed, cataracts can be treated with eye surgery by an ophthalmologist.

The advances in cataract surgery in recent decades have been amazing, and the patients are benefiting greatly. Still, many people are hesitant to undergo surgery, but it’s important to understand that cataract surgery is a safe and routine procedure.

So you can have a better idea of what to expect, here are five things you need to know about cataract surgery:

What are cataracts?

Before considering surgery, you must fully educate yourself about what cataracts are.

A cataract occurs when the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded. This can occur in one or both eyes, though it cannot be transferred or spread from one eye to the other. When a cataract obstructs the lens, it cannot focus properly on images, which results in objects appearing blurred or dull. This condition cannot be prevented or corrected by medication. In essence, the most effective way to treat a cataract is through surgery to completely replace the old, clouded lens with a new, artificial lens.

For most patients, this surgery completely transforms their vision and dramatically improves their quality of life. There are several common signs that a patient has developed a cataract, including:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Difficulty with glare — headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright, or a halo may appear around lights.
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye.
  • Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Cataracts are common.

Cataracts are very prevalent and are the number one cause of vision loss globally. According to an article in Consumer Reports, about 24.5 million people in the U.S. have cataracts. More than half of all Americans will have undergone cataract surgery by the age of 80, and more than 3.5 million cataract surgeries are performed annually. Because of the many operations, and hours of experience, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective types of operations.

Surgeries are rising, and the age of patients is dropping.

The annual number of cataract surgeries is increasing annually, and the average age of the surgery patient is dropping. Research indicates that the rate of cataract surgery had increased five times since 1980, and the average age of a patient undergoing cataract surgery has now decreased to 65.

The recovery time is short.

Immediately after surgery, vision can be very blurry, and you will need assistance in getting home. The results, of course, vary per person, but many patients state that their vision begins to improve within a few days of the surgery. You should be completely healed a month after your surgery.

[If you think cataract surgery is for you, click this link for the next steps in the process!]

You need to invest in yourself.

Some also believe that vision loss and its restrictive impact should be accepted as part of the aging process. However, research has shown that cataract surgery has a far-reaching impact on the quality of people’s lives. Now is the time to focus on yourself and make your health a priority. Think of cataract surgery as an investment in your future and your health. Check out our patient financing options here!

Cataract surgery can dramatically improve both your vision and quality of life. However, it is a decision that requires a lot of thought and research.

Contact our team at Cataract Consultants today for an evaluation to find out if you could be the right candidate for cataract surgery.