How A Doctor Of Optometry Manages Cataracts

How A Doctor Of Optometry Manages Cataracts

A cataract develops when the lens in your eye, which is normally clear, becomes foggy. Proteins in the lens begin to clump together, eventually causing changes in your vision like blurriness, cloudiness, or reduced colour vision. When a cataract clouds the lens, your eye cannot focus on the light passing through correctly. This eventually leads to blurry vision or vision loss. Although cataracts cause unpleasant visual changes, they do not require immediate surgical intervention for treatment. Your optometrist will first work with you to manage your symptoms with prescription glasses or contacts until surgical treatment becomes unavoidable. While you may be able to correct your vision with prescription glasses, there is no curative treatment for cataracts other than surgery. 

Managing Cataracts Non-Surgically

After your optometrist has diagnosed you with the cataract condition during a comprehensive eye exam, they will begin outlining a treatment plan tailored to how severe your condition is. The first treatment stage for individuals suffering from cataracts is an effort to manage and minimize their symptoms by: 

  • Prescribing corrective glasses
  • Improving the lighting around their home
  • Using other visual aids
  • Protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing anti-glare sunglasses

Once these measures are no longer enough to help you see comfortably and confidently during daily tasks such as reading, driving, and looking at a screen, it may be time to consider surgical treatment. 

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery involves removing your damaged lens and replacing it with an artificial one. The artificial lens is known as an intraocular lens and becomes a permanent part of your eye that requires no maintenance. Surgical treatment for cataracts is rarely an urgent necessity. You and your eye doctor will carefully consider whether you would benefit from the surgery or not. 

What To Expect During Cataract Surgery
When you undergo cataract surgery, the area around your eyes will be numbed with local anesthesia while you stay awake for the procedure. Your surgeon will then use a microscope to make a small incision on the front of your eye before inserting the intraocular lens. There are two main procedures that are used to correct cataracts:

Phacoemulsification: This procedure involves making a small incision between 2-3 millimeters long on the side of your cornea (the clear outer layer of your eye).  Your surgeon will then insert an ultrasonic probe to break up the protein clumps while suctioning them out. The intraocular lens is then inserted through the incision. This procedure does not require sutures to heal.

Extracapsular Surgery: During this procedure, your surgeon will make a larger incision that is 9-13 millimeters long on your cornea before removing the center of your lens. The rest of your lens is then removed by suction before inserting the new intraocular lens. This technique has a higher risk of complications because of the larger incision, however, it is still performed around the world due to the low costs associated with the procedure. 

SE Calgary Cataract Treatment

According to the National Eye Institute, about 90% of individuals who have cataract surgery experienced significant improvement in their vision. Visiting your optometrist will ensure you take preventative measures to protect your vision and detect any early signs of eye-related diseases such as cataracts. If you currently suffer from cataracts and are interested in surgical treatment options, visit your optometrist to discuss if you are a good candidate for cataract surgery. 

Our SE Calgary optometry clinic can help you rule out any disease or eye conditions and develop treatment options to relieve your aggravating symptoms and help you see clearly. If you are interested in cataract surgery treatment options, contact our SE Calgary optometrists to book an eye exam with us today!


Q: What are some common signs and symptoms of cataracts?
A:  Common signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurry/cloudy vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Need for brighter light to see objects
  • Seeing halos around lights

If you notice changes in your vision or suffer from any of these symptoms, visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam to receive a proper diagnosis.

Q: How long is the recovery from cataract surgery?
A: Most people notice an improvement in their vision 1-3 days after surgery. However, it can take 3-10 weeks for the full benefits of the surgery to be noticeable. 

Q: How long does cataract surgery take?
A: The length of the surgery can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on what surgical technique your surgeon uses. 


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