Cataract surgery is the most common eye surgery done by ophthalmologists. Over 3 million of these procedures are performed each year. Most likely, at some point, you will need cataract surgery!
Our staff fields many questions about cataract surgery each day. Hopefully if you’ve had any questions about cataract surgery, this information will be helpful.
First, what is a cataract?
Cataract is the natural clouding of the lens inside the eye. It is not a “film” on the lens, rather, the lens turns a yellow or brown color, and there can be white opacities throughout the lens tissue. The lens is located behind the iris, or “colored part” of the eye.
How do I know if I have a cataract?
Cataracts cause the vision in the distance to be blurry. The yellowing or cloudiness of the lens causes light to bounce as it’s entering the eye, resulting in glare, halos, or starbursts with night time vision. Most people over the age of 40 have a small amount of yellowing starting in the lens. It can take over 20 years for that change to cause symptoms, and some people are fairly asymptomatic even with pretty dramatic cataracts. Your eye doctor will be able to see them on examination, and help to determine when surgery is needed.
How do I know if I need cataract surgery?
There are a combination of factors involved in deciding on cataract surgery. First, you must be symptomatic. If you are having trouble seeing to drive at night, or have had to change your normal daily activities because of the vision disruption of cataracts, it may be time to take them out. This honestly is the most important factor. Also, your eye care professional will assess how dense your cataracts are, and what the visual acuity is in the distance. If we are unable to get you to see better than 20/30 in the distance with a new glasses prescription, it may be time to have surgery. Your eye doctor will let you know if postponing surgery is going to cause the cataract to be more difficult to remove—no, we don’t wait until they are “ripe.” We decide on surgery when lifestyle changes, decreased vision and appearance of cataracts add up to removal.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog, Cataract Surgery Blog: Part 2 which will delve into the actual procedure, recovery time, and what to expect after surgery.
Has it been awhile since your last appointment? Ready to schedule an eye exam? Call (218)720-3553.