Cataracts are a fact of life. Anyone who lives long enough will get them and almost everyone knows someone who has had them. The good news is, with the latest technology available, improving your vision is very safe and will often times leave you with better vision without glasses than you had before the cataract.
Let’s look at the ABCs of cataracts:
A – Age. Remember that cataracts are changes to the lens of our eye as we get older. Different factors can influence when the cataracts start to form. Cataracts tend to develop sooner in folks who spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun without sun protection or sunglasses. They also tend to form earlier if you have diabetes or if you are a smoker. So keeping your eyes out of the sun and staying healthy will help delay the onset.
B – Blurry Vision. The lens of the eye starts changing with cataract formation, making vision blurry. It is like looking out of a blurry window. Usually night driving will be much harder and cataracts can cause difficulty with headlights a night. Cataracts can also cause glasses prescriptions to change as well. It is common to need one or two changes in glasses prescription before the cataract is affecting vision enough to have it removed.
C – Cure! The good news about this eye disease is that there is a very good treatment option. Cataract surgery involves removing the blurry lens from the eye and inserting a prosthetic lens in its place. This is an outpatient procedure and can take as little as 20 minutes. The new lens often has a prescription in it that will be very close to your current glasses or contact lens prescription and will allow you to see better without the use of glasses or contacts. There are even lenses available that can help with near vision as well as far vision. Usually after cataract surgery, vision improvement can be noticed as early as the next day.
Remember, make sure to have routine eye health and vision exams to determine if cataracts are forming or changing. Your eye care provider can assist you in determining the appropriate time to have them removed. Until then, stay healthy and wear sunglasses!
~Lisa M. Weiss, OD, FCOVD
California Optometric Association