What are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouded area in the lens of the eye (the part of the eye that allows you to focus on objects near and far). While symptoms may not be apparent at first, over time cataracts can drastically affect your vision.
Cataracts are an inevitable byproduct of aging. Over 50% of Americans older than 80 will have cataracts or will have had cataract surgery.
While the majority of cataract cases are caused by aging, they can also be caused by injury to the eye or develop as a complication of surgery.
Cataracts generally develop in both eyes, but will typically not progress at the same rate.
Treatment for Cataracts
If left untreated, cataracts can lead to vision loss and even blindness.
Currently, the only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the US and is considered low risk.
During cataract surgery, an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) will remove your clouded lens and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL). There are several different intraocular lens options, your ophthalmologist or optometrist can discuss which option is suited best for your case.
The surgery is performed in an outpatient clinic and is typically done in 10-20 minutes.
Recovery from Cataract Surgery
While there is no guarantee that you will see 20/20 after cataract surgery, many patients see better than they ever have after the procedure.
Most patients will be able to resume light activity after 2-3 days of recovery. Full recovery however, takes one to two months. At your follow up, your eye doctor will let you know when it is safe for you to resume normal activity.
When Should I Consider Cataract Surgery?
Cataracts are not considered an emergent condition. Surgery should be considered when the condition begins to seriously impair your vision to the extent that it affects your daily life.
Below are five signs that you may want to consider cataract surgery.
1. Blurred Vision
Blurred vision is one of the most common signs of cataracts. Due to its cloudy nature, a cataract blocks light as it passes through the lens. This prevents a well defined image from reaching the retina. This blurriness can worsen as the cataracts progress.
2. Decreased vision in low light levels (ie night driving)
Cataracts can make it difficult to see in low light. If you notice that your vision is impaired when driving at night and wish to continue driving, it is time for cataract surgery.
Cataracts often leave patients sensitive to light. If you have trouble walking outside in the bright sunlight or notice a glare on headlights/streetlights as you drive at night, it may be time to consider surgery.
4. Faded colors
Age-related cataracts interfere with color perception. Those with cataracts will often complain that colors appear faded and dull (often with a yellowish tint).
5. Double vision
Some patients experience double vision (diplopia) due to cataracts. Double vision can be incredibly debilitating. Once the cataract has been removed, double vision is typically resolved.
At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, our optometrists can diagnose your cataracts during an eye exam and help you determine when the time is right to pursue cataract surgery.