Many people over the age of 60 live with the reality of cataracts and cataract surgery.
Cataracts is an eye condition that brings about cloudy or blurry vision which can be extremely uncomfortable.
Thankfully, cataracts can be treated by an eye doctor.
Why Do People Get Cataracts?
As time passes, protein builds up on the lens of your eye. This makes vision cloudy and prevents light from passing through as intended.
If left untreated, cataracts can result in loss of vision.
There are a few things that can cause someone to develop cataracts including heavy drinking, smoking or any of the following factors:
- Age – The most common cause of cataracts is age. The proteins simply build up over time, and cause problems for seniors.
- Secondary Causes – When someone has diabetes or other medical conditions potentially harmful to the eyes, a common result is the onset of cataracts. Secondary cataracts can also be caused by overexposure to UV light, toxic substances, radiation or certain medications.
- Congenital – Sometimes babies are born with cataracts that were caused by poor development, infection or injury while in utero.
- Trauma – An injury to the eye can result in the sudden development of cataracts.
How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?
If you feel as though you might have cataracts, look out for some of the following signs and symptoms and then speak to your eye doctor about your concerns.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Blurry, cloudy, or foggy vision
- Differences in how you see color
- Difficulty with glare from lights while driving at night
- Seeing glare during the day
- Becoming nearsighted
- Double vision
- Glasses and contacts that don’t seem to help your vision
When you discuss these issues with your eye doctor, they can perform an exam to establish whether the cause of your eye problems might be cataracts.
Be prepared to have your eyes dilated so your eye doctor can examine your whole eye.
Treatment For Cataracts
Generally, eye doctors prefer to begin treatment with the least invasive options available. After examining your eyes, if cataracts are diagnosed, your eye doctor will determine the best course of action for treatment.
Sometimes the symptoms associated with cataracts can be treated with glasses or contacts. If this is the case for you, your eye doctor will give you a prescription to help. Many people experience relief from cataracts in this way.
If your situation cannot be treated with glasses or contacts, your eye doctor might inform you that your best course of action is to have cataract surgery. Sometimes it might be necessary to get cataract surgery even if the cataracts are not bothering you. Cataracts can escalate rapidly creating more problems for your vision.
What Is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is usually done in-office as outpatient surgery.
This means you will be in and out then straight back home with no need for an overnight stay.
During the surgery, you’ll remain awake. Your eye doctor will numb your eye to ensure you don’t feel any pain. If necessary, they’ll give you medication to help you relax.
Cataract surgery typically takes around an hour to perform. To correct your cataracts, your eye doctor will create a small incision in the front of your eye, in your cornea. A tiny tool will be inserted in to this cut, and ultrasound waves will be used to break the cataract into pieces. Once it’s broken down, your eye doctor will suction the pieces out of your eye.
Your eye doctor will then insert a new lens into your eye. These artificial lenses are made from silicone, plastic or acrylic. Once the lens is inserted, the incision will be closed and you’ll be free to go.
Types Of Lenses
During cataract surgery, your eye doctor will place a new lens in your eye. These lenses help you to regain some of your vision lost to the cataracts. You won’t be able to see the lens in the mirror or feel it in your eye. Over time, it’s absorbed and becomes a part of your eye.
There are a few different types of lenses your eye doctor can choose from and they can benefit your vision in different ways…
- Monofocal lenses have a single focus strength. These lenses can be fixed or they can be accommodating. The accommodating lenses can adjust themselves to different focuses by responding to the movement of your eye muscles.
- Multifocal lenses have different areas of focus, much like bifocals. You can focus in different areas of the lens in order to see both near and far.
- Toric lenses can be used to correct severe astigmatism of the eye allowing you to see more clearly.
What Are The Benefits Of Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is generally successful with over 95% of those who have had cataract surgery reporting an improvement in vision.
Since you will be looking through a clear lens for the first time in a while, things might appear jarring at first.
You can expect some slight pain and mild discomfort as well as general itching for a few days.
Healing from cataract surgery is quick and easy, though.
Are There Risks Associated With Cataract Surgery?
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with having surgery done to remove cataracts.
Thankfully, these complications are extremely rare but you should know what they are.
- Retinal Detachment
- Vision Loss
- Dislocation of Artificial Lens
- Secondary Cataract
Preparing For Cataract Surgery
Your eye doctor will probably suggest you do certain things in order to prepare for your cataract surgery.
Your doctor might tell you to temporarily stop taking certain medications. If you’re taking blood thinners or medication for prostate problems, your doctor needs to know. Be sure to tell your eye doctor every medication you are on for safety’s sake.
Most eye doctors will prescribe antibiotic eye drops for use a few days before the surgery. These are used to help reduce the risk of infection.
Recovering After Cataract Surgery
Your eye doctor will probably have you wear an eye patch for a few days to protect your new lenses and your eyes.
You will likely experience itchiness and discomfort for a few days. At the end of the week, you can expect clearer vision and brighter colors all around.
Healing completely from cataract surgery generally takes around 2 months.
So, Is It Worth It?
Only you and your eye doctor can determine whether cataract surgery is the best option for your situation.
In most cases where it’s the best course of action, the pros of cataract surgery vastly outweigh the cons and clear vision is just around the corner!
Unfortunately, for a lot of seniors with vision problems, independent living can become impossible. If you or a loved one is struggling with some sort of vision issue, it may be best to seek the help of an assisted living facility in Hobbs. Landmark Senior Living is one organization that can help your loved one at this stage of their life. If you would like to learn more, please visit our website today.