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What is a cataract?

This images shows two different views of the same scene.  The top image is a clear view of a lovely mountain range in Colorado.  The bottom view is a slightly yellowed, unevenly-blurred view of the same mountains.  This is meant to simulate the visually-damaging effects of cataracts.

How Cataracts Affect Vision. Top Image: Normal vision. Bottom Image: A simulation of the color distortion and blurred haze associated with cataracts.

A cataract is a cloudy area in the normally clear lens of the eye.Depending upon its size and location, a cataract may interfere with normal vision.  Most cataracts develop in people over age 50, but they occasionally occur in infants and young children.


What causes cataracts?

Most cataracts are due to age-related changes in the lens of the eye.  However, other factors can contribute to their development including:

  • Diabetes – Persons with diabetes are at a higher risk for cataracts.
  • Drugs – Certain medications are associated with the development of cataracts. These include corticosteroids and chlorpromazine.
  • Ultraviolet radiation – There is an increased chance of cataract formation with unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
  • Smoking – An association between smoking and increased cataracts has been reported.
  • Congenital – Cataracts can be present at birth, or develop shortly after.  This is why our eye doctors recommend baby’s first eye exam at 6 months of age.
  • Trauma – Cataracts may develop following an injury to the eye, or following eye surgery.


How can cataracts be prevented?

Simple preventive strategies include reducing exposure to sunlight through UV blocking lenses, decreasing or discontinuing smoking, and increasing antioxidant vitamin intake through consumption of leafy, green vegetables and nutritional supplements.  A UV-blocking coating should be added to the spectacle lenses in those patients who are at risk for developing cataracts.  Keep in mind, that living in Thornton, Brighton, Westminster, or Denver means that you’re living at a mile above sea level -there is considerably more ultraviolet light here than at sea level, and sunglasses should be worn at all times when outdoors.


How are cataracts diagnosed?

At Vista Eye Care in Thornton, Colorado, our eye doctors, Dr. Pedroza and Dr. Abert, take a thorough patient history to determine vision difficulties experienced by the patient that may limit daily activities and other general health concerns affecting vision.  Visual acuity measurement and refraction determine the extent to which contact lenses or glasses can improve your vision.  Careful evaluation of each lens determines the extent and location of any cataracts.  Next, supplemental testing for color vision and glare sensitivity can determine when surgery should be pursued.  Our eye clinic’s comprehensive annual eye exam is affordable and useful in monitoring for cataract formation.


How are cataracts treated?

Treatment of cataracts is based on the level of visual impairment they cause.  If a cataract affects vision only minimally, no treatment may be needed.  Patients may be advised to monitor for increased visual symptoms and follow a regular check-up schedule.  In some cases, a change in eyeglass prescription may provide improvement in visual acuity.  The use of anti-glare coatings on clear lenses can help reduce glare for night driving.


What is cataract surgery?

When a cataract progresses to the point that it affects your ability to do normal everyday tasks, surgery may be needed.  Cataract surgery involves removing the crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries performed today.  As with any surgery, cataract surgery has risks from infection and bleeding.  Approximately 90 percent of cataract surgery patients report better vision following the surgery.

Additional testing may be needed to determine the extent of impairment to vision caused by a cataract and to evaluate whether other eye diseases may limit vision following cataract surgery.  Using the information obtained from these tests, our optometrists can determine if you have cataracts and advise you on your treatment options.



Please contact our office today at (303) 450-2020 to schedule a comprehensive eye exam to assess your eyes for cataracts, or use the button below to schedule your eye exam online:

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Vista Eye Care

13695 Colorado Blvd. Thornton, CO 80602
Phone: (303) 450-2020
Fax: (303) 920-1440

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