Cataracts are one of the most common eye conditions in the United States. Although it is most commonly associated with the senior years, the risk of getting cataracts starts to increase from around the age of 40.
According to the National Eye Institute, around 24.4 million Americans aged over 40 will suffer from cataracts at any one time. The condition, which is progressive, painless, and affects the clarity of your vision, can’t be cured. Instead, the only effective long-term treatment is to undergo cataract surgery.
There are more than 2 million cataract surgeries performed in the United States every single year, making it very common. It is also considered extremely safe when it is performed by a skilled and experienced cataract surgeon.
Cataracts: An Overview
A cataract is the result of changes to the structure of the natural lens of the eye. The natural lens is made up of proteins that are usually spread thinly across it, enabling you to see clearly through it. However, as we get older the proteins start to become thicker and clump together, causing clouding that is impossible for light to penetrate, causing patches in your vision. These will get progressively worse over time.
Cataracts can affect anyone, but they are particularly likely in patients who:
- Suffer from other eye conditions, such as uveitis
- Have been diagnosed with diabetes
- Take high levels or prolonged doses of corticosteroids
- Have had eye surgery or experienced an injury to the eye
- A family history of cataracts
It’s also believed that poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking excessively and a diet heavy in salt, sugar, and fat could also contribute towards the likelihood of cataracts forming. Cataracts can form in one eye or both. They can also develop at different rates meaning that your vision could be better in one eye or worse in another.
What Is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is a simple, straightforward procedure that usually takes just 45-60 minutes per eye and is performed under local anesthetic, meaning that you can go home the same day. The actual procedure involves your cataract surgeon making a small incision into your eye so that the affected lens can be removed. It is then replaced with an artificial alternative known as an intraocular lens. There are different types of intraocular lenses, and your surgeon will help you to choose the right sort for your needs. After the artificial lens has been placed, tiny sutures may secure it in place and the eyes will be left to heal.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, you will need to have two separate surgeries carried out at least a few weeks apart. Your surgeon will be able to give you more advice on this.
Signs You May Need Cataract Surgery
There is a range of symptoms associated with cataract surgery, including but not limited to:
- Clouded, blurred, or dimmed vision
- Increasing difficulty with your vision at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Need for brighter lighting for reading and other close-up activities
- Seeing halos around lights
- Frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions
- Fading colors
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend that you speak to your eye doctor to schedule an assessment for cataracts as soon as possible.
For more information about cataract surgery, please visit Eyecare Center Optometrist, PSC at our offices in Kentucky. Call (859)-208-2020 to schedule an appointment today.