Most people have heard of cataracts – a common eye condition that occurs when the small, transparent disc that forms the lens of your eye starts to develop cloudy patches. Cataracts form because the proteins that are usually evenly dispersed across the lens start to change and clump together in clouds.
These clouds get progressively bigger until they start to become difficult to see through. People who suffer from cataracts often compare their vision to looking through frosted glass. Cataracts are best known for affecting older people, but they can occur at any time of your life. Cataracts currently affect more than 22 million Americans over the age of 40.
Many people wonder exactly how long they should wait before they seek treatment for cataracts. Should they wait until their vision gets worse, or should they talk to their eye doctor about starting treatment right away?
The main reason for this confusion is because there is information out there that states that patients need to wait for a cataract to mature before they have surgery to treat their condition. Fortunately, this isn’t the case at all. You can undergo surgery to remove cataracts at any stage of their development and actually, the more mature a cataract is, the more difficult it can be to remove effectively.
That said, you also don’t need to rush either. In most cases, cataracts develop fairly slowly and yours may not cause you too many visual difficulties for a long time. All the while you’re able to do your usual day-to-day activities, you may decide to hold off on getting cataract surgery. It’s also important to be aware that cataract removal surgery is a significant procedure, and your vision could be negatively affected for several weeks while you recover and your eyes heal, meaning that you will need to consider this when you schedule your appointment. If you have cataracts in both eyes, it is advised to have surgery on one eye at a time, so that you can retain good vision in the other while your treated eye heals. These surgeries can usually be performed between four and eight weeks apart.
If you drive, you’ll need to make sure that you meet the vision standards as required by your state to keep your license. Unfortunately, cataracts can affect the quality of your vision, particularly at night when the lights of streets, houses, and other vehicles can cause glare and halos of light to appear. If your vision is significantly impacted, it may not be safe for you to drive. Driving with vision below the required standard could even invalidate your insurance.
Even if you aren’t planning on undergoing cataract surgery imminently, it’s critical that you still attend regular appointments with your eye doctor so that they, along with your general eye health, can be closely monitored. Although cataracts usually develop slowly, there are instances where one could rapidly progress and affect your vision more quickly than you might anticipate.
If you would like more information about cataracts, or if you have concerns about your vision and you’d like further advice and support, please contact us to schedule an appointment.