What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. The lens refracts light to the retina and adjusts focus to help us see clearly. The lens is made partially of protein and as we age that protein can begin to cluster, which creates a cataract. Cataracts may not impede vision at first, but they can grow to cause blurring, dulling of colors, or light sensitivity. The vast majority of cataracts are age related, although some cataracts may be caused by an injury to the eye or they may be congenital, meaning they are present at birth. The National Eye Institute reports that 24.4 million Americans currently have cataracts, and that number could double by 2050 1. The only way to be sure you have a cataract is to see a qualified eye doctor.
Will I Need Cataract Surgery?
For most people over 60, the question of cataract surgery is not IF, but WHEN. The Kellogg Eye Center at Michigan University estimates that over 90% of people 65 and older have a cataract 2. Cataracts can begin to form in your 40’s or 50’s, but you may not experience any symptoms at first. It is important to have regular appointments with your eye doctor to diagnose and check on the status of any cataracts. You do not need to have a cataract removed until you begin to experience vision impairments, but it is critical to talk to your doctor about surgery once you begin to experience any blurriness or difficulty seeing clearly. Symptoms will worsen as cataracts continue to grow and if left untreated cataracts can cause blindness.
How Do I Know When To Get Cataract Surgery?
Are you experiencing blurred vision?
The first symptoms of cataracts are blurry or dulled vision.
Does bright light irritate your eyes?
Light sensitivity due to cataracts can be uncomfortable. Wearing UV eye protection can help.
Do you have difficulty driving, especially at night?
The ability to drive safely is a common incentive to have cataracts removed. In addition to blurriness, cataracts can affect the way your eyes filter light at night and cause a halo effect that is very disruptive to night vision.
Are cataract symptoms preventing you from enjoying your favorite activities?
Activities such as reading or watching movies aren’t as enjoyable when you can’t see clearly. Gardening or outdoor activities may be restricted due to light sensitivity. A combination of symptoms can make traveling or visiting loved ones a challenge.
Is your job performance affected by cataract symptoms?
The ability to see clearly, especially when reading documents or following along in a meeting, is crucial in many occupations.
Are you or your loved ones concerned for your safety because of impaired vision?
Vision changes due to aging can be difficult to discuss, but cataracts are a common problem and treatment is available.
What Treatment Options Are Available For Cataracts?
Surgical removal of cataracts is currently the only FDA approved treatment option. Initial symptoms may be alleviated by prescription glasses or special lighting, but eventually your eye doctor may recommend surgery. Rest assured that cataract surgery is very common, is widely regarded to be safe, and has an extremely low rate of complications 3. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services reports that cataract surgery is the #1 most commonly performed surgery in the United States 4. At Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute we are committed to personalized vision care. We offer several types of surgical treatment for cataracts:
Contact Gordon Schanzlin For More Information On Cataract Removal
The surgeons at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute have helped improve the vision of thousands of patients in San Diego. If you suspect that you may have a cataract, or if you have cataracts that are beginning to affect your ability to see clearly, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Our team will make sure that you understand all the options available and we’ll help you choose the right one for you. Call us at (858) 455-6800 to schedule a consultation.
3 Community Eye Health. 2008 Mar; 21(65): 1–3
4 AHRQ Archive Home > Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project (HCUP) Ambulatory Surgery in U.S. Hospitals, 2003