Cataracts are Common, but Highly Treatable

Over 25 million Americans have cataracts — in which the eye lens progressively becomes more cloudy, resulting in impaired vision. According to the Prevent Blindness study, “The Future of Vision,” that number may increase to 38.5 million by 2032. Learn more about the types of cataracts and cataract surgery that can correct this debilitating threat to your vision.

smiling elderly couple: cataract patients enjoying clear vision happy elderly couple: cataract patients

Types of Cataracts

At the Swagel Wootton Eye Institute in Arizona, our ophthalmologists and optometrists treat three main types of cataracts, which are distinguished according to their location. 

Nuclear Cataracts

Nuclear cataracts or nuclear sclerotic cataracts are the most common type that we treat. If you live long enough, you will likely have a nuclear cataract at some point. The form in the middle of the lens gets progressively worse. At first, your reading vision may temporarily improve, but it doesn’t last.

Eventually, the lens hardens, turning yellow or brown. You have difficulty making out small details, haloes appear around lights and colors become dull. 

Cortical Cataracts

These cataracts appear on the cortex or outer edge of your eye lens. They begin at white wedges that point inward. Cortical cataracts scatter light. They cause glare and make it difficult to drive after dark. Patients who have them describe hazy vision and report difficulty distinguishing similar colors. The ability to judge distances may also become impaired. Cortical cataracts affect both near and far sight, so we recommend removing them immediately.

Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts

Posterior subcapsular cataracts develop behind the capsule that holds your lens in place. They block light passing through the lens. Symptoms develop early and you may notice changes to your vision in a few months. Close-up vision and bright lighting may become a problem. 

smiling couple enjoying life after cataract surgery Happy couple enjoying clear vision after cataract surgery

Treatment for Cataracts

Our eye doctors may recommend cataract surgery to restore your sight, and adults typically stay awake for the procedure. Local anesthesia administered through a shot or eye drops prevents you from experiencing any pain. Children undergoing cataract surgery are typically asleep for the procedure

Your doctor uses a microscope for a close-up view of your eye. An incision is made and one of our cataract surgeons in Arizona removes the lens in one of the following procedures:

  • Phacoemulsification: Using a tool that creates sound waves, the surgeon breaks up the cataract and suction the pieces up. This procedure requires a tiny cut.
  • Extracapsular extraction: The cataract is removed in one piece but the procedure requires a longer incision.
  • Laser cataract surgery: The surgeon uses laser energy to create the incision and prepare the cataract for removal. Otherwise, the surgery resembles phacoemulsification. Using the laser may be more accurate.

To complete the procedure, the surgeon places a manmade lens or intraocular lens (IOL) in the lens capsule to improve your vision. Usually, a liquid sealant is used to close the incision. However, the doctor may use tiny stitches to close it. 

Typically, you get one eye done at a time, and the surgery lasts under an hour. 

Contact Swagel Wootton Eye Institute today for more information on cataract surgery and other eye care procedures in the Greater Phoenix Area.


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