WHAT are CATARACTS?
Cataracts develop when the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded, which leads to reduced vision and sometimes total blindness if not identified early and treated correctly. For most people, cataracts are a natural part of the aging process and begin to develop after the age of 40, which is the general age when the proteins of the lens can start to degrade and/or bunch together. This cloudiness gradually worsens and blocks light from hitting the retina normally. Having cataracts is incredibly common, and cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the U.S. Close to two million men and women undergo cataract surgery every year. The disease can come about very slowly so those in the onset stages usually are not even aware of their condition.
Cataracts are an important reason why receiving comprehensive eye exams annually is crucial to your general ocular health. Our team of board-certified ophthalmologists at The Eye Center of Central PA is experienced in diagnosing and treating cataracts in the earliest stages. Contact one of our offices in Central Pennsylvania to learn about your options for relieving your cataract symptoms and restoring your eye health.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE IT?
Often, the first sign of cataracts is progressively impaired eyesight that isn’t improved with a person’s current eyeglasses or contact lens prescription. Many patients also notice they require brighter light in order to read. Other symptoms may include reduced night vision, seeing more glares or halos, and seeing with an overall yellowish tint. Cataracts don’t cause pain, and they can exist for quite a while before they produce any vision problems. In the majority of people, the condition starts to develop somewhere between the ages of 40 – 50; however, the majority of patients don’t suffer from any cataract symptoms until reaching their 60s.
WHAT CAUSES CATARACTS?
A cataract is caused by the normal aging process and the natural breaking down of the proteins within the eye's lens. This breakdown occurs in all people, but there are other lifestyle and medical factors that might aggravate the process. These can include behavioral habits, such as using tobacco products, drinking too much, or too often. Prolonged exposure to UV rays has also been attributed to the development of cataracts, as well as some medical conditions, like diabetes and hypertension. Further factors that can impact the process include:
- Certain medications, such as steroids
- Certain kinds of eye surgery
- An inherited predisposition for cataracts
- Degenerative myopia
- Eye trauma
Cataracts Explained Reviews
"Dr. Hartzell is a miracle worker as far as I'm concerned! In just 2 years my eye sight had gotten extremely bad. I couldn't read anything without glasses. I wanted lasik surgery to eliminate glasses and correct my bad vision. My night vision was also terrible, it was like everyone had their high beams on. After my eye exam I found out I had cataracts. I never expected that! I was very scared about surgery. Every one there was so kind and professional. Dr. Hartzell removed the cataracts and my sight is unbelievable!!! I actually read my fortune cookie at PF Changs and amazed my family. I would encourage anyone thinking eye surgery to call the Eye Center and ask for Dr. Hartzell!"- L.M. / Yelp / Apr 23, 2019
"Having cataracts in both of my eyes had affected my vision over time so much that it was hard to do anything in my daily life. It was also getting very bad driving at night from all the bright lights affecting my vision even more going to and from work. A friend had recommended this eye center so we called and made an appointment and met with Dr. Hartzell. He explained what was going on with my eyes and we began preparations for my surgery. The entire staff was very helpful through the whole process and made things go smoothly. Both surgeries went very well and my sight had improved so much just after 24 hours and kept getting better! Thank you to the great staff for being so helpful and special thanks to Dr. Hartzell for removing my clouded vision and bringing back the wonderful colors and sight back into my life! I can now see very clearly with no issues!Thank you,Iba C."- I.C. / Google / Apr 05, 2019
"When I arrived at the Eye Center in Lewisburg, I received a thorough exam and then met with Dr. Hartzell. At that time, I had uncorrected vision of 20/400 (that's legally blind) with cataracts that further diminished my vision. Due to three prior retina tears, Dr. Hartzell outlined what he thought would be the safest plan for me. I met with several technicians after that who went over in detail exactly every step in a three month program - and I received a book with information and phone numbers and a precise schedule. Through the measurements, left and right eye surgeries and weekly follow up appointments, I have been met with helpful and courteous people who exhibited the highest level of caring and professionalism.As I type this review, I don't know where my glasses are - my last test had my uncorrected vision at 20/15. I can look at a flower and see individual petals and vivid colors. I can look at my dog and see details in his face I've never seen before. How important is your vision? At the Eye Center, they are giving people sight - it's not like rating a coffee shop.These few paragraphs cannot express how grateful I am."- G.V. / Google / Feb 05, 2018
"When I came to the Eye Center of Central PA in 2016, it was a scary situation. I am a graphic artist by trade, so I need my eyes to earn a living. Both of my eyes were failing due to very aggressive cataracts... My vision turned so poor, so quickly that I could no longer drive, read a magazine or use a computer! Even something as simple as watching TV had become nearly impossible. My entire world was a blur, like looking through Saran Wrap. Dr. Hartzell and his entire staff were very assuring, comforting and confident their procedures would help me. Every step of the way they were efficient, organized and completely professional. Their cheerful demeanor before and during my surgeries, and at every follow-up appointment since, has proven I made the right choice for my eye care.The results? For the first time in 50 years, I no longer need glasses! Waking up each day with nearly perfect vision (20/25) is a true blessing in every way. My wife and I thank Dr. Hartzell, his nurses and staff for all their compassionate assistance and care. — James & Lori Wittlich"- J.W. / Google / Feb 05, 2018
"Having cataracts in both of my eyes had affected my vision over time so much that it was hard to do anything in my daily life. It was also getting very bad driving at night from all the bright lights affecting my vision even more going to and from work. A friend had recommended this eye center so we called and made an appointment and met with Dr. Hartzell. He explained what was going on with my eyes and we began preparations for my surgery. The entire staff was very helpful through the whole process and made things go smoothly. Both surgeries went very well and my sight had improved so much just after 24 hours and kept getting better! Thank you to the great staff for being so helpful and special thanks to Dr. Hartzell for removing my clouded vision and bringing back the wonderful colors and sight back into my life! I can now see very clearly with no issues! Thank you, Iba C."- I.C. / Google / Mar 28, 2019
HOW are CATaracts diagnosed?
To diagnose a person with cataracts, an eye doctor has to perform an in-depth eye exam. Our team at The Eye Center of Central PA is highly trained at performing the diagnostic tests that are offered during comprehensive eye exams. The most effective tests to identify a cataract are all extremely easy, relatively brief, and don't cause any pain.
To start, one of our ophthalmologists will conduct a simple acuity test. This is usually done using an eye chart. After that, we might give a contrast sensitivity test. This is a lot like a vision test except it measures how easily the patient is able to perceive contrast in images. Following the acuity and contrast tests, a slit-lamp exam is typically performed. During a slit-lamp exam, our eye surgeons use a customized microscope that directs a strong but especially narrow “slit” of light into the eye to observe its outermost structures. Finally, we will perform the retinal exam and maybe a potential acuity meter (PAM) exam. Before these tests, we will dilate the pupils. This is very important because it enables the best possible vantage point to look at the whole lens for any cataract spots. If a cataract is detected, then the PAM might be done. A PAM determines a patient’s possible acuity as though the cataract didn't exist. The PAM is very important when it comes to determining which IOL (intraocular lens) to use if the patient needs to have surgery.
After we identify a cataract, we will begin to discuss your options for treatment. The most effective solutions for cataracts are chosen, depending on the stage of the disease. In the beginning stages, a majority of patients simply need new prescription lenses. Those with more advanced cataracts generally require a more involved option, like cataract surgery or laser surgery. Our experienced team is devoted to providing each one of our patients with the best possible care. Depending on the diagnosis, we treat cataract patients in our Central PA facility or refer them to a specialist we know and trust.
ACHIEVE CLEARER VISION TODAY
Central Pennsylvania individuals who have any of these symptoms or who haven’t gone in for a comprehensive eye exam in the last two years need to schedule an appointment at The Eye Center of Central PA at their earliest convenience. Particularly for individuals who are over the age of 40, receiving comprehensive eye exams no less than annually is integral to diagnosing and treating cataracts and multiple other eye diseases. With an early diagnosis, we can design a unique treatment plan to manage your condition.