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Treating Cataracts

Dr. Rachel Bishop's Top Tips for Your Eyes

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Most cataracts occur naturally with aging.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts. So are smokers and people who spend a lot of time in the sun.
Surgery is the only treatment for cataracts—there are no approved medications at this time.
In about about 90 percent of cases, people who have cataract surgery have better vision afterward.
The most effective way to maintain your vision is through regular eye exams, a healthy lifestyle, and eye protection.
Dr. Rachel Bishop

Dr. Rachel Bishop, chief of consult services at the National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Photo: National Library of Medicine

A specialist in general ophthalmology and cataract surgery, Dr. Rachel Bishop is chief of consult services at the National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health (NIH). She examines the eyes of people participating in clinical trials at the NIH. This involves monitoring medication and treatment effects, managing eye diseases, and performing surgeries.

  • Make eye care a part of your regular health care routine. Your eye care professional will tell you how often you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Don't smoke, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and eat a diet with plenty of leafy, dark green vegetables. If you have diabetes, keep it under control.
  • Know your family's eye health history. Having a family member with eye disease may put you at higher risk. Talk to your doctor to find out more.
  • When outside, try to wear sunglasses and a hat to shield your eyes from ultraviolet light (sunlight), especially if you are a farmer, a fisherman, or you spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • Wear protective goggles when playing sports or doing yard work to guard your eyes against flying objects such as baseballs, wood chips, or debris.

Lenses After Cataract Surgery

After your eye's natural lens has been removed, it is usually replaced by an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). An IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye. Light is focused clearly by the IOL onto the retina, improving your vision. You will not feel or see the new lens.

IOL Types

Monofocal—This common IOL type has been used for several decades. Monofocals are set to provide best-corrected vision at near, intermediate, or far distances. Most people who choose monofocals have their IOLs set for distance vision and use reading glasses for near activities. On the other hand, a person whose IOLs were set to correct near vision would need glasses to see distant objects clearly. Some decide to have the IOL for one eye set for distance vision, and the other set for near vision, called "monovision."

Multifocal—These newer IOL types reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. In the multifocal type, a series of focal zones or rings is designed into the IOL. Depending on where incoming light focuses through the zones, the person may be able to see both near and distant objects clearly.

Discuss your lens options with your eye doctor to determine the IOL that best suits your vision needs and lifestyle.

—Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)

Research Update:

The NEI is conducting and supporting a number of studies focusing on factors associated with the development of age-related cataract. Researchers are examining:

  • The effect of sunlight exposure, which may be associated with an increased risk of cataract.
  • Antioxidants and other vitamin supplements, which have shown varying results in delaying the progression of cataract.
  • The role of genetics in cataract formation.
Read More "Treating Cataracts" Articles

Cataract Q&A / Dr. Rachel Bishop's Top Tips for Your Eyes / Cataracts and Other Common Eye Diseases

Summer 2014 Issue: Volume 9 Number 2 Page 8-9