Have you recently found out you have cataracts? You’re not alone.
Cataracts are a prevalent age-related eye condition. Most people will develop cataracts at some point in their life.
They can be incredibly frustrating, making it more challenging to do many of the things you once loved as your vision gradually worsens. They can even lead to blindness.
The good news is that, unlike many other age-related eye conditions, they are entirely curable, and treatment reverses any vision loss they’ve caused. There is, however, only one form of treatment, and that’s cataract surgery.
Because cataracts are so common, cataract surgery is also a procedure most people will eventually undergo. It should be no surprise that it’s the most commonly performed medical procedure in the US.
Chances are that you’ll get cataracts at some point in your life and eventually need cataract surgery. But why?
What are cataracts, and why do so many people get them? Why is cataract surgery necessary? Keep reading to find out why cataracts and cataract surgery are part of life!
What are Cataracts?
If you have a cataract, it forms in the natural lens of the eye. Your lens is supposed to be transparent and see-through but can become less transparent over time.
When the lens becomes cloudy, you begin developing a cataract. Scientists don’t know the precise cause of why cataracts form.
What they do know is that cataracts usually develop as a result of aging. As you get older, your body changes. One of these changes is that the cells that make up your lens begin to opacify.
In the early stages, cataracts aren’t noticeable. You may not realize you have cataracts at first or experience any changes to your vision. They don’t cause physical pain or discomfort, but they make it harder to see as they develop.
Cataracts develop slowly, so it’s not unusual not to experience any symptoms during their early stages. But as they grow, symptoms begin to appear gradually. These symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Light sensitivity
- Halo and glare
- Decreased ability to see color contrast
- Colors losing their vibrance
- Needing more frequent prescription changes to your glasses or contacts
- Injuring yourself more often due to your impaired vision
Cataracts may be mistaken for other visual issues, mainly because they’re associated with aging. Most people experience worsening vision as they get older.
Because cataract symptoms develop so gradually, it’s easy to attribute them to simply getting older. Some of the symptoms of cataracts also overlap with another age-related eye condition called presbyopia.
If you’re unsure what’s causing your worsening vision, the best thing you can do is see your eye doctor. They can determine the cause of your vision problems and help you understand when it’s time to have cataract surgery if you have cataracts.
Who Gets Cataracts?
You can technically get cataracts at any age. But almost all cases are in adults over the age of 40.
Once you turn 40, you should see an eye doctor at least once every two years so they can diagnose your cataracts or any other eye conditions you may develop.
Age is the most significant risk factor for cataracts, but there are others. Most people will get cataracts eventually, but you may develop them sooner if the following apply to you:
- You’re a smoker
- You frequently drink to excess
- You have had a traumatic eye injury
- You have spent time out in the sun without proper eye protection
- You have diabetes
- You have high blood pressure
By leading a healthy lifestyle, you can lower your risk of developing cataracts earlier in life. But if you live long enough, you’ll probably get cataracts eventually, as they’re simply a part of life.
When to Get Cataract Surgery
After you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, you may not need cataract surgery immediately. Most cataract surgeons only suggest cataract surgery once your cataracts interfere with your quality of life.
You may find out you have cataracts when they are still in their early stages, so it may be several years before you need to undergo cataract surgery. But once your cataracts cause significant visual problems, it’s best to have them removed as soon as possible.
When left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness. Although any vision loss is reversible by having cataract surgery, there’s no reason to wait until this point.
Diagnosing your cataracts early ensures that your eye doctor can monitor their progression and recommend surgery once they’ve affected your vision and way of life.
Cataract surgery is a low-risk medical procedure. It’s performed as an outpatient surgery and requires no general anesthesia.
During the procedure, your cataract surgeon will remove your natural lens to remove the cataract that’s formed inside it. But you won’t be left without a lens when this occurs.
After removing your natural lens, you’ll have an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL) inserted into your eye to take its place. There are several different kinds of IOLs.
The most basic kind of IOL is a monofocal lens, which only corrects vision at one distance, leaving you needing glasses to see at other ranges. If you want improved eyesight at more distances, LaserVue Eye Center offers many Advanced Technology IOLs, sometimes called premium IOLs.
These IOLs help you see better than a monofocal lens, which insurance covers along with the cost of surgery. Advanced Technology IOLs will require you to pay out of pocket. Still, they can enhance your vision significantly and reduce your need for other visual aids like reading glasses and contacts.
When you have cataract surgery, your eye doctor will help you choose the best IOL by telling you about the different options and making recommendations for your vision and lifestyle goals after cataract surgery. Although cataract surgery is an elective procedure, it’s the only way to treat cataracts to reverse and prevent further vision loss.
If your vision with cataracts is standing in the way of doing the things you love, it’s time to take the next step. There’s no reason to continue living with cataracts when you could be seeing clearly again. Cataracts are just one part of getting older, but they aren’t the end of the world.
Cataract surgery can completely restore your vision. Are you ready to take back control of your life and how you see it? Schedule a cataract consultation at LaserVue Eye Center in San Francisco, CA, now!