Have you started to feel like the world is looking blurry, hazy, or less colorful? You may be suffering from cataracts, an eye condition that affects more than 22 million Americans. Cataracts are particularly common among older people — by the age of 80, more than half of Americans have been diagnosed with a cataract.
Here’s the good news: when cataracts get in the way of your regular activities, they can be successfully treated with surgery. “Cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the US, with more than 3 million performed each year,” says Dr. Scott Weber of Grand Rapids Ophthalmology’s Greenville office. “It’s also one of safest and most effective.”
Dr. Weber answers some common questions about cataract surgery:
How do I know if I have cataracts?
Cataracts are a clouding or discoloration of the eye’s lens. Over time, you may experience one or more of the following: blurred vision, double vision, trouble seeing well at night or in dim light, or seeing bright colors as faded or yellowish.
Am I at risk for cataracts?
Aging is the most common risk factor for cataracts. Clouding of the lens usually occurs after age 60, though you may not experience vision problems until years later. Other risk factors include:
- family members with cataracts
- a health history that includes eye injury, eye surgery, or radiation on your upper body
- lots of time in the sun, especially without sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays
What are my treatment options once I’ve been diagnosed with cataracts?
Most age-related cataracts develop slowly. If your symptoms aren’t bothering you too much you may not need more than a new glasses prescription, brighter lights for reading or other activities, and perhaps a magnifying glass and anti-glare sunglasses. The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery.
When is it time to consider cataract surgery?
You should have surgery to remove cataracts when they get in the way of your normal activities: driving, reading, watching TV. Discuss your cataract symptoms with your doctor and decide together whether you are ready for surgery.
What does cataract surgery entail?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient surgery. At GRO, we perform it in our CMS certified and AAAHC accredited ambulatory surgery center. During cataract surgery, an eye surgeon will make a small incision and remove your eye’s cloudy lens, replacing it with an artificial lens. Under normal circumstances, you can resume your normal life within the week after surgery (usually within a day or two).
Standard cataract surgery is accepted by most insurance plans. GRO also offers Optimized Cataract Surgery Plans that reduce the need for glasses after surgery.
Can I do anything to slow down or prevent the development of cataracts?
The best way to preserve your vision is to protect your eyes from sunlight: wear a hat and sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of the sun’s UV rays. Quitting smoking, prioritizing good nutrition, and addressing other health problems—especially diabetes—may also slow down the development of cataracts.
Bottom line: Cataracts are a treatable condition.
If you think you may be suffering from cataracts, now is the time to schedule a complete eye exam. If you are ready for surgery, the doctors at GRO are happy to review the options and help you choose the best solution for your unique eyes.