Cataracts and Trauma: What’s the Connection?

By Catherine N. Reeves, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham

The human eye works like a camera. Inside of the eye, there is a colored membrane called the iris whose tiny muscles change the size of the pupil to control the amount of light getting into the eye, like the aperture of a camera. Behind the pupil is the lens, which, like a camera, focuses on objects and people that are either nearby or at a distance. As a person ages these lenses may become cloudy. The cloudy or blurry spots are called cataracts.

At first, a cataract may be small and unnoticeable. Over time, a cataract can grow larger, blocking more of the lens and distorting vision. If left untreated, cataracts can cause impairment or continual loss of vision, eventually leading to total blindness. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States among adults over the age of 55. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, more than half of all Americans age 80 or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts.

Many cataracts do not necessarily need to be removed, however, they may interfere with a doctor’s treatment of other issues, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. Sometimes, cataracts can progress to a point that a person can no longer safely perform their job or drive an automobile. Cataracts may interfere with other daily activities such as reading, cooking, and walking. When cataracts become this severe, an ophthalmologist may perform cataract surgery.

There are a few types of cataract surgery, but they all ultimately remove the biological lens in your eye, which has become damaged, and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Types of cataract surgery include: small-incision cataract surgery, extracapsular surgery, and all-laser surgery.

There are side effects associated with cataract surgery, as there are for any surgical procedure. For example, there are some risks of inflammation, dislocation of the artificial lens, retinal detachment, or loss of vision. These side effects are rare, complications are greater if a person has another eye disease or serious medical condition.

Recovery time after surgery may be several weeks, up to a few months. The estimated recovery time is about eight weeks, but if you have additional complications, this process may take longer. As the eye heals, vision adjusts and becomes less blurry. Colors may be brighter since the patient is now looking through a new, clear lens.

Cataracts may also be the result of trauma. When a person sustains an eye injury, cataracts may develop immediately, or in some cases, months to years later. Injuries may occur when an object with extreme force collides with a face, if a sharp object pierces the eye, or if a chemical substance penetrates the eye.

If you or someone you know, has suffered from trauma-induced cataracts or wishes to talk to someone about eligibility for Social Security disability due to cataracts, contact Metzger Wickersham. Call us at (888)-286-2850 or email us to schedule your free consultation today.

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