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When Is It Time for Cataract Surgery? 

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A woman's face held by an eye doctor under an eye examining instrument with light projected on her left eye.

Millions of Americans are affected by cataracts. Typically it’s an age-related condition, but that’s not always the case. The thing about cataracts is that quite often, they begin developing without noticeable symptoms. This is why regular eye examinations are important to your overall eye health.

When cataracts are caught early enough, an eye doctor can often correct the problem using prescription glasses or contact lenses. Unfortunately, this does not fix the cataract but may help slow the development.

As cataracts develop further, they may affect your vision more and more. Once cataracts begin affecting your daily life, it may be time to consider getting rid of them. The only way to do so is through cataract surgery.

What are Cataracts?

To understand when it’s time for cataract surgery, we first need to look at what cataracts are and how they affect our vision. In each of our eyes, there is a lens. This lens is responsible for transmitting light to the retina without scattering it.

As a cataract develops, this natural lens in our eyes begins to grow cloudy. The speed with which this happens varies slightly depending on the type of cataract. Because it’s often a slow progression, most times, you don’t notice much for symptoms.

Typically, this condition affects both eyes. However, it can even develop at different speeds between each eye.

Various Types of Cataracts

Types of cataracts include:

  • Nuclear: The center of the lens is affected by a nuclear cataract. Most commonly, this causes an increase in nearsightedness. In some cases, it may even temporarily increase your reading vision. But over time, the lens clouds more to yellow or brown, creating difficulty distinguishing between shades of color. 
  • Cortical: The edge of the lens is where a cortical cataract develops. And instead of yellow or brown, these cataracts are usually white.
  • Posterior Subcapsular: A posterior subcapsular cataract develops in the back of the lens. In addition to developing quickly, these cataracts usually affect reading vision right away and reduce your ability to see in bright lights. You’ll also likely see glaring or halos around lights during the night.
  • Congenital: Cataracts are quite often age-related. However, there are other possible causes. One example is a congenital cataract which affects young children. In some cases, the child is born with cataracts. In others, they develop them early in their childhood. There is no single cause for congenital cataracts; they can be from trauma, infection, or even genetics.
An infographic showing the difference between a healthy eye lens and a lens with cataract deposition.

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts

One of the primary reasons cataracts often go undetected during their initial development is that they usually only affect a small area of the eye. These small changes typically don’t change your vision so much that you notice it immediately. This is actually the case for several other eye conditions too, which is why it’s vital to receive regular eye examinations.

If you’re in between eye exams, here are some common signs of cataracts developing: 

  • Dim, blurry, or cloudy vision
  • Yellowing colors or a decreased vibrancy
  • Double vision in a single eye
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Increased need for extra light
  • Rapidly changing prescription

When Is it Time for Cataract Surgery?

Often, a cataract can be managed through different prescription glasses or contact lenses during their early development. Another common symptom treatment is increasing light for activities such as reading.

Unfortunately, cataracts typically worsen over time, and a person’s vision eventually becomes cloudy or blurry. When cataracts start affecting your ability to complete daily activities, it may be time to discuss surgical options with your eye care doctor.

Cataract Surgery Overview

Fortunately, this surgery is widely performed and poses little risk for complications. Your optometrist can give you all the information regarding risks and benefits during a consultation.

A typical cataract surgery follows a simple process:

  • The eye doctor numbs your eye so there is little to no discomfort.
  • They make a small incision that allows them to remove the old, clouded lens.
  • An artificial lens called an intraocular lens is then inserted.
  • In most cases, the incision is left to heal on its own because it’s so small it doesn’t require sutures.

Recovery time is typically about 4 to 8 weeks, and your optometrist can provide you with all applicable aftercare instructions for cataracts treatment. For example, they may prescribe an antibiotic or steroid eye drop to help prevent any complications or infection.

Find Out More About Cataract Surgery

If cataracts are beginning to affect your life, give our office a call. Our helpful staff at Center For Sight can answer all your questions regarding cataracts and ensure that you’re booked in with a clinic that’s close to you.

Written by Center for Sight

Center For Sight is one of the nation’s leading multi-disciplinary physician groups. We provide ophthalmology, optometry, dermatology, audiology, and aesthetic services. With several locations throughout Southwest Florida, we proudly offer our patients convenient access to nationally-renowned surgeons, compassionate staff members, and cutting-edge technology.

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