What is a Cataract?

older woman smiling at camera

Do you or someone you love have cataracts? They are a common condition that occurs most often because of aging. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, and you are more likely to develop cataracts after the age of 40.

The good news is that if cataracts have started affecting your vision, there are treatment options to help regain your clear sight. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye begins to cloud over. The lens of your eye reflects light to the retina, which sends signals through the optic nerve. If this lens becomes cloudy, your vision can grow blurry, dull, or impaired.

Cataracts may occur in both eyes, but this does not always mean that they will develop simultaneously. Cataracts usually develop gradually, so you might not notice the symptoms at first. Eye doctors recommend routine exams to check for cataracts and other conditions like glaucoma.

Are Cataracts Permanent?

Once they begin developing, cataracts are permanent. There is no natural cure and no way to slow their progression. The only way to effectively treat cataracts is to have them removed during cataract surgery.

Your surgeon will remove the natural lens during the procedure and replace it with an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens or IOL. This artificial lens will allow you to see clearly and may even provide you with the best vision of your life if you choose an advanced technology IOL implant.

You and your ophthalmologist will make this decision together based on your lifestyle and vision goals after cataract surgery. After having cataract surgery, a cataract cannot develop in the same eye again.

What are the Symptoms of Having Cataracts?

The most well-known symptom of cataracts is cloudy, blurred vision. This is due to the development of your cataract, and it will likely get worse over time. You might notice other symptoms, such as:

  • Poor night vision
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Colors appearing faded or yellowed
  • “Halos” appearing around lights
  • Double vision

If you have trouble driving at night, struggle to watch television, or need to update your glasses prescription frequently, you should have your eyes examined. An eye doctor will be able to identify the signs of cataracts and diagnose the issue.

If I Have Cataracts, Do I Need to Have Cataract Surgery?

If you have cataracts, you may not need to have cataract surgery right away. Your eye doctor or cataract surgeon will monitor your eye health and recommend the best timing for your cataract procedure.

If your cataracts interfere with your day-to-day activities, this is the time that surgeons recommend having them removed. Your ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye exam to assess your cataracts.

If you suspect that you may have cataracts, schedule an appointment at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology today.

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