A cataract is a clouded area in the lens of the eye and usually develops with age. As you get older, the clouded area grows larger and begins to impede your vision. Common symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision, double vision, sensitivity to glare, fading of colors and the appearance of halos around street lamps and headlights. Cataracts affect over half of all Americans by the age of 70, so it is likely that you will develop a cataract in your lifetime.
Even before you notice a change in your vision, your eye doctor can detect the developing cataract during a comprehensive eye exam. If the cataract is still small, it may not be necessary to discuss treatment methods yet. When the cataract begins to affect your vision, it’s time to talk about cataract removal.
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common procedures performed today. Whether you have traditional cataract surgery or laser-assisted cataract surgery, the outcome is the same: clearer vision and less dependence on glasses. Through a tiny corneal incision, your clouded lens is removed and replaced with a plastic, custom lens that becomes a permanent part of your eye. This new lens is called an intraocular lens, or IOL. Before your surgery, you and your doctor will decide whether you want a monofocal IOL (corrects near or distant vision), multifocal IOL (corrects near and distant vision) or toric IOL (astigmatism-correcting).
In most cases, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure and takes only about 15 minutes to complete. Most patients resume their normal activities the following day, and fewer than 1 in 1,000 individuals experience serious complications. It sounds too good to be true that a brief procedure restores clear vision to more than 3.6 million Americans each year, but you could be part of that statistic!
Talk to your eye doctor about the many benefits of cataract surgery during your next comprehensive eye exam.