What Are Cataracts?
Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. When we look at something, light rays travel into our eye through the pupil and are focused through the lens onto the retina, a layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye. The lens must be clear in order to focus light properly onto the retina. If the lens has become cloudy, this is called a cataract.
Vision Problems with Cataracts
If your vision has become blurry, cloudy or you are not enjoying colors as vibrantly as before you than you may have cataracts. Many people say that their vision with cataracts is similar to the effect of looking through a dirty car window.
As a cataract slowly begins to develop, you may not notice any changes in your vision at first. But as the cataract progresses, you may begin to find that it interferes with your daily activities. After performing a complete eye exam, your eye doctor can tell you whether a cataract or another problem is causing your vision loss.
While cataracts are one of the most common causes of vision loss, especially as we age, they are treatable with cataract surgery. Since most cataracts are part of the normal aging process, they cannot be reversed. There are no medications or eye drops that will make cataracts go away—surgery is the only treatment.
A cataract may not need to be removed immediately if your lifestyle isn’t affected. Often, simply changing your eyeglass prescription may help to improve your vision. Contrary to popular belief, a cataract does not have to be “ripe” to be removed. However, once you are diagnosed with a cataract, your ophthalmologist needs to monitor your vision regularly for any changes.
Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. As a result, you may not notice changes in your vision right away when cataracts first develop.
Cataract Symptom Progression
- Painless cloudy, blurry or dim vision
- More difficulty seeing at night or in low light
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Seeing halos around lights
- Faded or yellowed colors
- The need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Double vision within one eye
With cataract surgery, your eye’s cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens implant, called an intraocular lens, or IOL. Your ophthalmologist will discuss the cataract surgery procedure, preparation for and recovery after surgery, the benefits and possible complications of cataract surgery, cataract surgery costs and other important information. Cataract surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure.