Talk the talk:

basic cataract terms

When talking about cataracts and options with your doctor, you can refer to the handy list of cataract terms below to give you a better understanding of the condition and your treatment options.

WORD

DEFINITION

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

A

WORD

ADVANCED (CATARACTS)

DEFINITION

Sometimes also called a mature cataract, this means that your natural lens has become very cloudy or discolored and you’re probably having problems with your vision.

Cataracts usually develop slowly, and at first are so small they do not affect your vision. After age 60 many people begin having trouble seeing with cataracts.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Do I have advanced cataracts?

Are my cataracts advanced enough to consider surgery? 

WORD

ASTIGMATISM

DEFINITION

This is an eye condition where the shape of your eye prevents light from focusing properly on the retina.

Normally, your eye is shaped like a basketball, but with astigmatism it’s shaped more like a football. Many people correct their astigmatism with glasses or contact lenses.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Do I have astigmatism as well as cataracts?

Could I correct my astigmatism and cataracts during cataract surgery?

WORD

ASTIGMATISM- CORRECTING REPLACEMENT LENS

DEFINITION

Also known as a toric IOL, this is an artificial lens used to replace your natural cataract clouded lens and correct your astigmatism at the same time.

What this does is provide a clear, unclouded lens area while also altering how light reaches the retina, so that it's no longer distorted because of the oblong (football) shape of your eye.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Do I have astigmatism? Could an astigmatism-correcting replacement lens help me see better after surgery?

Do you have payment plans available for an astigmatism-correcting replacement lens?

B
C

WORD

CATARACT

DEFINITION

This is a natural clouding of the clear lens of your eye. Cataracts are caused by a gradual buildup of protein.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

How advanced are my cataracts?

How could cataracts be affecting my vision? 

WORD

CATARACT SURGERY/PROCEDURE

DEFINITION

This is a common surgery where the natural cloudy lens in your eye is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens (called an intraocular lens or an IOL). 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

When should I consider having cataract surgery?

What happens during and after cataract surgery

WORD

CORNEA

DEFINITION

This is the clear, domed surface on the front of the eye that protects and helps to focus your vision. 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

What is the cornea?

D
E
F
G

WORD

GLAUCOMA

DEFINITION

This disease slowly affects your eye's optic nerve as fluid builds up and causes pressure in the eye. In its early stages glaucoma is treated with eye drops, though if left untreated it can cause blindness. 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

If I have glaucoma, how will that affect my cataract surgery?

H

WORD

HALOS (LIGHT HALOS)

DEFINITION

This is a common symptom of cataracts, and causes bright circles to appear around lights. This might be most noticeable when driving at night and seeing the headlights of oncoming traffic.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

How could halos be affecting my ability to drive at night?

When I drive at night I see halos around bright lights. Will cataract surgery help to correct this?

WORD

HYPEROPIA

DEFINITION

Also known as farsightedness, this means you can see things clearly far away, but have trouble seeing things up close.

Farsightedness is caused by having a shorter than normal eye or an overly flat cornea, which affects how light focuses inside your eye.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

If I have hyperopia, how will that affect my choices for cataract surgery?

I

WORD

IOL (INTRAOCULAR LENS)

DEFINITION

This is an artificial lens placed in the eye to replace the eye's clouded natural lens. Today’s IOLs are flexible and are about one-third the size of a dime.

You may also hear an IOL referred to as a “replacement lens,” a “cataract replacement lens,” or an “artificial lens.” 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Which IOL could give me the best vision outcome after cataract surgery?

What is the difference between a standard IOL and an advanced-technology IOL?

J
K
L

WORD

LASER ASSISTED SURGERY

DEFINITION

If you opt for this kind of cataract surgery, the laser will do parts of the procedure typically done with a scalpel.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

What are the benefits of laser assisted surgery?

Is laser assisted surgery covered by my insurance?

M

WORD

MANUAL (BLADE) SURGERY

DEFINITION

This kind of surgery means a small incision will be made to your cornea using a handheld blade. 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

What are the benefits of manual (blade) surgery?

Is manual (blade) surgery covered by my insurance?

WORD

MONOFOCAL

DEFINITION

This is a type of IOL that has one point of focus. A monofocal lens will fix your cataracts, but you may still need to wear your glasses or contact lenses to see close up or far away.

This is typically what is referred to when your doctor talks about a "standard" IOL.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Could a monofocal lens be right for my vision?

Will I still have to wear my glasses after cataract surgery with a monofocal lens?

WORD

MULTIFOCAL LENS

DEFINITION

These types of replacement lenses are designed with a series of focal zones or rings to help you focus at all distances.

You will often hear these lenses called "presbyopia-correcting lenses" because they’re specifically designed to provide a full range of vision, including near (for presbyopia correction), intermediate, and distance.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Could a multifocal lens be right for my vision?

Will I still have to wear my glasses after cataract surgery with a multifocal lens?

WORD

MYOPIA

DEFINITION

Also known as nearsightedness, this is a common eye condition where distant objects appear blurry.

Nearsightedness is caused by having a longer eye than normal, a lens that is too thick, or an overly curved cornea that affects how light focuses inside your eye. 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Do I have myopia and cataracts?

How will my surgery affect myopia? Will it make it better or worse?

N
O

WORD

OPHTHALMOLOGIST

DEFINITION

This is a highly trained doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. The main difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist is that an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Should I speak with my ophthalmologist about my current medications before cataract surgery?

Can I ask my ophthalmologist about how long my surgery should take?

WORD

OPTOMETRIST

DEFINITION

This is a health care professional that specializes in vision care. They can diagnose, treat, and manage a range of vision issues, though they do not perform eye surgery.  

You most likely will visit an optometrist for your yearly eye exam or glasses and/or contact fittings.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

My optometrist told me I have a slight astigmatism. How will that affect my cataract surgery, and will I still need my glasses?

My optometrist prescribed reading glasses for me because I can't read up close. Is there a replacement lens that can reduce my need for glasses all the time?

P

WORD

PRESBYOPIA

DEFINITION

This is an eye condition caused by a natural hardening of the eye’s lens and changes to the muscles surrounding the eye that makes focusing on things close up difficult.

Although everyone will develop presbyopia, the symptoms will be more noticeable for some people.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Do I have presbyopia and cataracts?

Are there replacement lens options that can help correct my presbyopia?

WORD

PROTEIN

DEFINITION

These are large molecules made up of amino acids that help our body function.

The lens of our eye is primarily made up of  water and protein. As we age, the proteins begin to clump together to form a cataract and start to block light from entering our eye. 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

How does the protein in my eye cause cataracts?

How long does it take for natural eye protein to become a cataract? 

Q
R

WORD

REPLACEMENT LENS

DEFINITION

This is another name for an IOL (intraocular lens). See IOL to learn more.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

What replacement lens could give me the best vision outcome after cataract surgery?

How can I find a replacement lens that will reduce my need for glasses after surgery?

WORD

RETINA

DEFINITION

This is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends messages through the optic nerve to the brain to be read as images.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

How does light focusing on my retina affect my vision?

How will replacement lenses help light focus on my retina?

S
T

WORD

TORIC IOL

DEFINITION

This is another name for an astigmatism-correcting lens. See astigmatism-correcting lens to learn more.

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

Could a toric IOL help me see without glasses after surgery?

If I have astigmatism and cataracts, how could a toric IOL improve my vision?

U
V
W
X
Z
Cathy Cataracts

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