Am I too young for cataract surgery?

In the US alone, age related changes to lens have been reported in 42% of the population
between 52-64 years of age, that’s young! Surgical intervention is available at any
stage, but it is usually recommended to wait until vision had decreased to the point of
interfering with your daily activities. By age 80, more than half of all Americans will
either have cataracts that impair vision or have had cataract surgery already.

What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the lens inside your eye. At birth, the lens is naturally clear
and at some point in mid life, will start to discolor, adding a brownish tint to your vision.
This makes it harder to differentiate contrast and colors, particularly blue and purple. As
the lens continues to age, it will cloud and make your vision duller and blurrier.

Normal vision Cataract vision

Risk factors for cataract development

  • Age
  • Environment: prolonged UV exposure, radiation exposure
  • Prolonged use of steroid medications
  • Social behaviors: smoking, excessive alcohol use
  • Systemic disease: diabetes, hypertension, obesity

Common symptoms of cataracts

  • Blurry vision, especially at night
  • Increased glare sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Frequent prescription changes in glasses and contact lenses

Cataract surgery
Cataract removal is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the US, as well as
being one the safest and most effective types of surgery. In about 90% of cases, people
who undergo cataract surgery will have better vision afterwards, with a significantly
reduced need for glasses.

While in most cases delaying cataract surgery will not cause any long-term damage, the
sooner you can have surgery the better. The longer you wait the larger and denser the
cataract becomes, thus making the surgery itself more difficult as well prolonging the
healing time afterwards.

After the natural lens (or cataract) has been removed, it is usually replaced with an
intraocular lens, or IOL. The IOL is a clear, plastic lens that will become a part of your
eye and will not typically require any maintenance. In other words, once you have
cataract surgery, you will never need it again!

How do I know if I need cataract surgery?
A cataract is detected through a comprehensive eye exam, which should be done yearly.
Symptoms of early cataracts can be managed by improving your eye glass prescription,
brighter lighting, and using anti-glare sunglasses. If these measures do not help, surgery
will be the only effective treatment.

Sometimes a cataract needs to be removed even if your vision is fine; these cases usually
involve the cataract causing high eye pressures or if it prevents your optometrist from
viewing other structures of your eye, like the retina, when managing ocular diseases.

There are some cases when a patient will NOT have a cataract, but vision is impaired
simply due to nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or presbyopia (eye muscles cannot
focus efficiently for reading). In these cases, glasses and contact lenses will correct vision
but the patient elects to purse other options. One of these options is called a “clear lens
exchange”, which is essentially cataract surgery but the lens clear and will be removed
for reasons other than cataract. Patients who choose this option will not have to deal with
cataracts later in life.

If you and your optometrist decide cataract surgery is your best option, there are different
choices for implants that can be used to optimize your vision after surgery. These
various IOLs include (but are not limited to) single vision distance, multifocal, and
accommodating implants. The right option will be different for every patient based on
their own vision expectations after surgery. Your optometrist and co-managing cataract
surgeon will help you determine your best choice.

Please call us with any questions!
If you feel your vision has worsened because of cataracts or you are unsure if cataracts
are starting to develop, make an appointment your doctor at Southwest Vision. We will
gladly answer any questions you may have.

Posted in Eye Disease
Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.

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