What is a cataract? Why do we get them?

The lens is behind the pupil and focuses light on the retina in the back of the eye. The lens is ectodermal tissue as is hair (which grows every day), skin (which we slough off every day), finger and toe nails (which grow everyday), and the prostate (which hypertrophies every day).

Fortunately, the intraocular lens is the slowest growing organ in the body. The eyeball is a sealed organ and there is no provision for the lens to get its old cells out of the eye. As a result of these design issues, the lens adds the new cell tissue onto the surface of the lens every day. As the lens becomes bigger each day, it eventually gets too big, stiff, and thick for the body to squeeze and focus for us. That is when we need “readers” for up close tasks.

Cataracts are simply a continuum of the growth and gradual change in the clarity and color of the proteins in our lens. If we live long enough every single person will develop cataracts. Cataracts, per say, do not harm our eyes so we take them out when we cannot see well enough to drive safely, read, hunt, play golf, sew, etc.

Cross Eye Centers Cataracts Treatment

Symptoms of Cataracts

Cataracts develop differently for everyone one both in severity and rate of progression. Gradually your vision will slowly decrease. Most people over 65 already have some degree of cataracts present. Eventually if one lives long enough the cataract will progress to the point where you will need surgery because as the lens gets cloudier you will notice visual symptoms such as:

  • Blurry vision making reading and driving more difficult-especially at night
  • Cloudy vision
  • Light appearing dimmer/darker
  • Fading color
  • Glare, halos, streaks of light around point light sources-especially at night
  • Big changes in glasses and contact lens prescriptions—making reading, TV, driving and/or walking more difficult

Cataract Prevention and Care

Since everyone will eventually get cataracts we can maybe slow the progress by avoiding intense ultra violet light (maybe good sunglasses outside), radiation, taking care not to get hit in the eyes, trying to avoid steroids as much as possible, and checking your intraocular pressures because there is a relationship to glaucoma and the size of cataracts. Check your glasses and contact lens prescriptions often to maximize your vision.

What are the different kinds of cataracts?

Most cataracts now days are white or grayish in color because our diets have very little free iron (when was the last time you cooked in a cast iron pan or skillet?). These cataracts react to light like “diamond dust particles” or “driving in the fog with your high beams on”. Most patients with these kind of cataracts have progressive complaints about oncoming headlights when driving, photosensitive, room lights, etc. The patient will decide when they bother them enough to get them out.
Brownish colored used to be the common cataract until the last about 15 years. They generally are not bothered by head lights or bright lights and can become amazingly densely brown and the patient see amazingly well. Because they are like a very dark pair of sunglasses, the patient needs more and more light to see well—hence the 100, 200, 300 watt light bulbs were designed for them (those are the last thing the patient with white cataract wishes to see!). These are generally the slowest growing of the kinds of cataracts.
These cataracts deposit a progressively thickening layer of calcium crystals inside the back capsule of the lens which is usually in the center of the lens. These calcium crystals act like diamond dust crystals and the vision also becomes like looking through a “frosted glass window”. These tend to grow very fast and cause the most difficulty in vision of all the types. Usually the patient will insist on having them out in 4 to 24 months after they are first noticed. They usually cause significant trouble driving as well as reading. These are the safest and easiest cataracts to remove.
Direct blows to the eyes or sometimes just severe head trauma can interfere with the lens biology and cause the lens to become opaque. They can be any of the above types.
Inflammation, blood in eye, intraocular eye surgery, medications, radiation:
These problems and occurrences can alter the lens’s physiology and can result in cataracts

State-of-the-Art Cataract Surgery

No Shot / No Stitch Surgical Procedures

Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, about 3 million a year, with the absolutely highest success rate. Cataract surgery is a microsurgery, which means a tiny incision is made in the eye to allow a very small instrument (about the size of a pen tip) to perform the surgery. Generally it is so painless that rarely does anyone even need to take an oral ibuprofen afterward. At Cross Eye Centers we have done about 50,000 cases with a very high success rate. When the hazy cataract is broken up and removed an intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted.


The surgical and intraocular lens (IOL) technologies have dramatically changed and improved, especially during the past several years. The procedure takes about 15 minutes and no sutures are needed. It is so painless that I have done surgeries with no oral or IV medications and topical eye drops only with totally happy results. Most patients receive mild IV sedation and topical anesthetic drops and are totally amazed at how quick and painless modern cataract surgery has become. After the procedure you will rest for a short while, have your vital signs checked and something to drink or eat before your go home. For legal reasons you may not drive yourself home after surgery. Most patients do not need anyone to stay with them once they are home. Patients will have drops and occasionally an ointment to use starting the afternoon or evening of the surgery. Patients are seen the first day post-operative either by us or your doctor that is co-managing your surgery with us.

For more in-depth info about our various cataract surgery options, visit our Cataract Surgical Procedures page.

More Cataract Information Here

What makes Cross Eye Centers a special place for cataract patients?

  • Patients meet with staff and surgeons on a “personal”, “direct”, “ask any or however many questions you wish” basis
  • The “how”, “what”, “why”, of the case and techniques and options for corrections are carefully given to every patient both by staff and physicians
  • We NEVER try to talk or force any patient to have any surgery or expensive lenses or options—(unless an emergency). That is one of the many things patients love about us. The patient decides when they need to see better. They are the one looking out, reading, watching TV, driving, taking their medications, experiencing the glare.
  • Dr Cross is a very experienced surgeon with approximately 50,000 cataract surgeries experience. He has been an instructor in cataract surgery, initially with Dr Charles Kelman (inventor of the modern phacoemulsification) and then with the company (Cooper Vision) making the machine for about 10 years, at UTMB Houston, and medical courses for physicians.
  • Our doctors personally follow all their post-operative patients
  • Cross Eye Centers try to be on the cutting edges of all the technologies
  • Our complication rates are very low—minor about 2 per 1,000, significant about 1 per 5,000 cases
  • We generally have one of our staff present during your surgery to help with any questions or problems that may arise
  • Not having to wear glasses, whenever possible, for most of life styles activities is the goal of our practice. Our patients love that about us! When a patient sits in our waiting room very long, it may occur to then that not too many people are wearing glasses—that is our goal

Get in touch today!