Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process and are very common. Nearly everyone who lives a long life will develop them at some point. While a cataract diagnosis may be alarming, this condition is painless and is usually slow to progress. Read on to learn more about cataracts.
What Are They?
Cataracts are the clouding of the crystalline lens inside the eye. The lens is located directly behind the iris, and in youth it is a clear structure that allows light to easily pass through. Throughout life, proteins may begin to accumulate inside the lens, and parts of the lens can become less clear and more opaque. This slow process of clouding is known as cataract formation.
How Will Cataracts Affect My Vision?
Different types of cataracts may affect your vision differently. They commonly cause colors to appear less vibrant and more dimmed. Glare and halos around bright lights may become more bothersome. Seeing at night, particularly while driving, may be more difficult. Occasionally cataracts can even cause double vision. In some rare cases, cataracts can progress quickly and become visually significant very soon after they are diagnosed; but in the overwhelming majority of cases, it takes many years for cataracts to begin significantly affecting your vision.
What Can I Do About Them?
At annual comprehensive exams, your eye doctor can evaluate your cataracts and determine when they start to affect your vision and an adjusted prescription is no longer adequate. At that point, they may recommend cataract extraction surgery. This surgery is very routine and is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures. It involves removing your clouded lens from its pocket inside the eye, called the capsule. A new clear implant is then placed inside your capsule, taking the spot of your old lens. While all surgeries may carry some degree of risk, cataract surgery is generally thought of as a very safe procedure. Many people report much improved vision following the surgery, and sometimes the need for glasses can even be eliminated.