Cataracts are one of the most common eye conditions in the United States, estimated to affect more than 90% of Americans over the age of 65. Although they are painless, they are also progressive and over time, patients with the condition will find that their vision, and eventually their quality of life, is negatively impacted by this disease.
Here’s what you need to know about the different stages of cataracts and when it is the right time to get treatment.
Very early cataracts only cause very minor symptoms, and your eyes will almost certainly look clear and normal. You – or anyone else- won’t be able to tell that you have a cataract just by looking at you. Most people with early-stage cataracts experience very slight blurriness in their vision. However, they are more likely to develop symptoms of eye strain, which occur because their brain is automatically trying to compensate for the slight disturbances in their field of vision, even if they don’t realize it. Symptoms of eye strain include headaches, stiff neck, and tired, sore, and irritated eyes.
This refers to the next stage in cataract development. At this stage, your vision will become blurrier, and cloudier and you may start to notice glare and halos around light sources. Driving at night may be more difficult and your eye doctor may advise you that your prescription is changing more frequently. Updating it may help with your vision for a time.
When cataracts reach the mature stage, they start to change the outward appearance of the eye. When you look in the mirror, you may notice a clouded white or grey spot on the eye. Your vision will continue to get worse, and it will almost certainly be starting to compromise some of your day-to-day activities.
In the last stage, hypermature cataracts will cause the center of your eye to look milky white or amber. Your vision will be severely impaired and treatment to restore your quality of life is essential.
Cataract treatment involves removing the cloudy natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial alternative called an intraocular lens or IOL. There are lots of different types of IOL and your cataract surgeon will be able to advise you on which sort will be best for you based on your individual needs.
While you can get cataract treatment at any stage of the disease, most people don’t feel that it is necessary until their cataract starts to interfere with their day-to-day activities, such as working, driving, and watching television.
Cataract surgery is very straightforward, with countless procedures being performed across the United States every year. It is performed under local anesthetic, so you will be awake, but a mild sedative and local anesthetic eyedrops mean that you won’t experience any discomfort. Recovery is also usually fairly simple, with minimal risk of complications provided you follow the instructions set out by your cataract surgeon. It can take from 2 to 6 weeks to fully recover from cataract surgery.
Concerned about cataracts? Contact our friendly and knowledgeable team for advice and support today. Visit Urban Optics at our office in College Station, Texas. You can call (979) 690-0888 today to schedule an appointment.