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A cataract is an opacification or clouding of the eye’s lens. It is most commonly seen in patients over the age of 60, but patients of any age can develop cataracts. Mild cataracts may be unnoticeable other than a slight blurring of vision. However, cataracts can eventually impair vision enough to seek treatment.

Typical cataract symptoms include:

  • Glaring and halos at nighttime
  • Decreased color perception
  • Difficulty reading small print on the television
  • Trouble seeing road signs

An ophthalmologist can determine if a patient’s symptoms are related to cataracts or any other medical condition. Patients should have their eyes examined if their vision loss is prevent them from performing normal activities, such as:

  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Inability to see short distances clearly, such as a golf ball
  • Difficulty seeing the steps well enough to navigate stairs

At Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, board certified ophthalmologists have extensive experience in diagnosing cataracts and recommending the best course of treatment. Once a patient’s cataract interferes with daily activities, surgery is the most likely and most successful option.

Cataract surgery has progressed over the years and can now be performed as an outpatient procedure. Patients undergo a process called phacoemulsification, which involves placing a local anesthetic in the eye. Surgeons then remove the cataract without any real discomfort for the patient. Most often, patients can return home the same day of surgery.

Total recovery times vary, but most patients experience almost full recovery in a matter of days and complete recovery within weeks. Ninety-nine percent of the time, cataract surgery is the only treatment a patient will need.

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