Are you struggling to see? Does it feel like you’re looking at the world and everything around you through a foggy or dirty window?
Cataracts are one of the most common age-related eye conditions that people will develop. Over half of all adults will have at least one cataract by the time they turn 75.
But what you may not realize is that cataracts can start forming as early as your forties or fifties. Once you’re over forty, your chances of developing cataracts already increase.
When you have cataracts, they may be hard to notice at first. For many patients, this means that they don’t realize they have cataracts at the beginning of their formation.
People may not be aware that cataracts can take a long time to develop, and it may even be over years or decades. But eventually, visual symptoms can make it very difficult to do everyday tasks. At that point, cataract surgeons recommend having cataract surgery to regain your ability to see clearly.
But what is cataract surgery, and when should you have it? Keep reading to learn more about cataract surgery, and 5 signs it’s time to consider having the procedure!
Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, which is usually clear. The development of cataracts is almost always a side-effect of the aging process.
Cataracts can also develop for other reasons, like diabetes, eye injury, and continued steroid use. They may also be congenital.
But the most common kind of cataract occurs as a result of aging. A cataract develops slowly over time, making it harder and harder to see.
The only way to treat cataracts is to have them removed during cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed medical procedures in the world, making it highly effective and low risk.
The procedure removes cataracts by removing the lens they’ve formed on. That lens is then replaced with an artificial one called an intraocular lens, or IOL.
You should see an eye doctor regularly by the time you’re 40. Regular eye exams will allow for early cataract diagnosis and monitoring as they develop.
Because they take such a long time to develop, you may not need cataract surgery to treat cataracts right away. It’s good to know they’re there so you can be aware of how they’re affecting your vision as they develop.
Your eye doctor will recommend cataract surgery when your cataracts affect your quality of life. While this may sound subjective, there are some key signs that your cataracts affect your quality of life. Here are just a few:
1. You Have Blurry Vision
The primary symptom of cataracts is blurry vision. The more cloudy your lens becomes, the harder it is to see through.
Sometimes, cataracts can be mistaken for worsening vision. But with cataracts, stronger prescriptions won’t be able to correct your vision fully.
While stronger glasses, contacts, or reading glasses may seem to help at first, your vision will continue to worsen and won’t improve no matter what prescription you use. When your cataracts reach this point, they will make it more challenging to see.
You may even lose the ability to see. You don’t want to wait until that point to have cataract surgery, so you should consider having it when your blurry vision begins to affect your ability to do daily tasks.
2. You See Lots of Glare from Light Sources
Another common symptom of cataracts is increased glare and seeing halos around light sources. It may be hard to notice these symptoms in the early stages of cataract development, but it becomes more apparent at night.
Lights against a dark background can cause an incredibly intense glare. Headlights from cars at night may even seem blinding. If you frequently struggle with glare, it’s a sure sign it’s time to consider cataract surgery.
If you feel unsafe while driving, find a trusted friend or family member that can drive at night. You’ll be able to get back to driving yourself again after having cataract surgery to improve your vision.
3. Your Eyes are Very Sensitive
In addition to causing more glare, cataracts make your eyes more sensitive to light. Experiencing more light sensitivity can make lights more painful to look at at night.
You may even find you can’t open your eyes fully when around bright lights. Harsh lighting is uncomfortable for most people, but it’s likely due to cataracts if you have trouble being near bright lights, particularly at night. You should consider getting cataract surgery if your eyes have become extra sensitive to light.
4. You Have Trouble Seeing In Low Light
Cataracts make it harder to see at night and in low light. Often, this is mistaken for another age-related eye condition called presbyopia.
Presbyopia makes it harder to focus up close, and many patients with cataracts also have presbyopia. Both conditions can make reading and other fine focus tasks harder.
With cataracts, this is due to a lack of proper lighting. If a direct light improves your ability to see up close, your issue is at least primarily due to your cataracts.
Glare, light sensitivity, and poor night vision can make it very difficult to drive at night. If driving at night has become too challenging, that’s a strong indication that you may be ready for cataract surgery.
5. You’ve Injured Yourself Due to Poor Vision
If you get into an accident or fall because of your impaired vision, that is a definite sign that you need cataract surgery. Ideally, you should have cataract surgery before your eyesight is bad enough to cause physical injury.
But if you have injured yourself in any way, no matter how minor the injury, you should talk to your eye doctor right away about cataract surgery.
Having cataract surgery can give you your life back, restoring all vision loss caused by your cataracts. As soon as your cataracts start affecting your quality of life, you should make plans with your eye doctor to have cataract surgery as soon as possible.
Learn more about cataract surgery and if it’s time to have it by scheduling a cataract consultation at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, today!