Cataracts affect more than 25 million adults in the Forty-and-Over age group, and this number is expected to continue climbing over time. Cataracts cause the lens of one or both eyes to become clouded. The only way to improve vision in someone with cataracts is to remove them. But to remove a cataract means to remove the unhealthy lens and replace it with an artificial structure. Cataract surgery is not necessarily complex, but many patients wish to understand best when treatment should be conducted. Here, we take a closer look.
A person may develop a cataract as the lens of the eye naturally changes with age. The clouding of the eye’s natural lens occurs gradually over some years. Early on, vision may not be significantly affected and may be supported with prescription lenses. However, over time, cataracts will expand. This leads to greater visual interference. Because cataracts are not painful and do not pose a risk of blindness, the general recommendation is quite loose: have cataracts removed when you want to.
When might you want to have cataracts removed? This is the Big Question. Because the prospect of eye surgery is rather intimidating, many patients put cataract removal off far longer than they should. To determine if your time for cataract surgery is approaching (or has passed), ask the following questions:
- Can I perform all of my occupational duties and favored activities? If blurred or yellowed vision makes it difficult to read a computer screen or printed document, or inhibits your ability to read, sew, cook, or engage in other hobbies you enjoy, it’s time to seek treatment.
- Is night driving becoming difficult due to cataracts? Light does not pass through clouded lenses very well. Individuals with cataracts may start to see halos around lights when driving at night or may find it difficult to accurately identify objects in low-light settings. Whether or not you can still pass a driver’s test, cataracts that stand in the way of safe night driving should be removed.
- Have alternative ways of managing cataracts stopped working? In the early stages of cataract clouding, it may be possible to manage vision with brighter lighting, polarized sunglasses during daytime activities, or with prescription eyeglasses. If these tools no longer accomplish the intended outcome, the next step is to replace the clouded lens with an appropriate intra-ocular lens.
Your eye doctor can help you manage cataracts and determine the right time for removal. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive exam and consultation for cataract care.