It is common to hear about cataracts from your parents, grandparents, or perhaps friends. They are the world’s most common cause of blindness but, luckily, here in North America they are easily treated with surgery.
What is this condition and what can you expect in the coming years regarding your own eye health? Read on to find out more about this widespread condition.
Located inside the eye is a natural crystalline lens that helps focus light and objects onto the photosensitive nerve layer at the back of the eye, the retina, for clear vision. For this reason, it is important for the lens to remain clear. However, with age and other contributory factors such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure, trauma, certain diseases, or medications, this lens can become clouded and ultimately obscure vision.
A cataract, then, is simply a clouding of the lens. While some changes due to cataracts can be very obvious, others may go unnoticed for years.
As you age, the lens will always become more clouded, although the speed at which this occurs varies for different individuals through various genetic and lifestyle factors.
It is common for our eye doctor to notify you about possible changes to your lens at your annual appointment, but no treatment will be needed until the cataract is dense enough to truly interfere with your best vision.
They will continue to monitor it every year and assess for changes. When the vision has decreased significantly and is starting to affect an individual’s wellbeing and ability to complete tasks like driving, surgery will be considered.
Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in North America. If you are referred for surgery by our optometrist, an appointment with an ophthalmologist will be booked for you.
It may take a couple of months for you to get an appointment, as there is often a high demand for cataract surgery. You will have a consultation at their office and discuss what options you have for the lens that will be implanted.
Together, you will select a lens that is suited for your needs. Often this is a lens that will correct your distance vision, such that you will not need glasses to see far away after the procedure is complete but will still need reading glasses.
In addition, they may offer a toric intraocular lens (IOL) for astigmatism correction or a multifocal IOL that can allow for vision correction for distant and near objects.
After healing, many patients report improved vision and that the world appears brighter with colors being more vibrant.
Reading glasses may still be necessary but after six weeks and the vision has stabilized, our optometrist will reassess your vision and prescribe an appropriate pair of glasses.