Cataracts are one of the most common eye conditions. About one in every six Americans over the age of 40 has a cataract, equaling about 20.5 million people. By the age of 70, about one in every two Americans is affected by cataracts.
There are no eye drops or medications that prevent or reverse cataract formation, so the only option is surgery. This may seem risky and alarming, but cataract surgery is actually one of the safest, most effective surgeries performed in the United States. New technology, like laser-assisted cataract surgery and micro-incision cataract surgery, now remove cataracts in the least invasive manner. For every 1,000 surgeries, less than one procedure results in a serious complication.
Cataract surgery has restored the vision of millions of people. When you are faced with the question of how soon to have your cataract removed, consider these facts:
- Cataracts are a degenerative condition. A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye, and it results when the lens loses flexibility. Over time, the protein in the lens clumps up, and the lens is no longer able to allow light to pass through. With cataracts, your vision will never improve. It will only get worse. The only solution is to remove the deteriorated lens and replace it with an artificial lens.
- Untreated cataracts result in vision loss. If left untreated, the cataract impairs vision completely. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, but a simple, fifteen-minute outpatient surgery can restore clear vision.
- Cataracts interfere with daily activities. Eventually, your cataracts will prevent you from reading books, house cleaning, watching television, and doing hobbies like making crafts, playing cards, knitting, or woodworking. When cataracts prevent you from being active and productive, it is time to schedule cataract surgery.
- Cataracts make night driving a safety hazard. Blurred vision from cataracts can make your eyes overly sensitive to light. Normal light sources, like street lights, headlights from oncoming traffic and lit signs, can impair visual performance and put you and other drivers at risk.
Although cataracts do not require immediate removal, they will progressively worsen over time. Why delay cataract surgery if you can immediately regain clear vision and resume the activities you love? Private insurance and Medicaid usually cover a monofocal artificial lens, so talk to your doctor about the replacement lens that is best for you.