Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens bends (refracts) light rays that come into the eye to help us see. The lens should be clear. But if you have a cataract, your lens has become cloudy. It is like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.
Here are some vision changes you may notice if you have a cataract:
Aging is the most common cause of cataracts. This is due to normal eye changes that happen starting around age 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens start to break down. This is what causes the lens to get cloudy. People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later.
Other reasons you may get cataracts include:
Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. Other cataracts can develop more quickly, such as those in younger people or those in people with diabetes. Doctors cannot predict how quickly a person’s cataract will develop.
Cataracts can be removed only with surgery.
If your cataract symptoms are not bothering you very much, you don’t have to remove a cataract. You might just need a new eyeglass prescription to help you see better. You should consider surgery when cataracts keep you from doing things you want or need to do.
During cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will remove your eye’s cloudy natural lens. Then he or she will replace it with an artificial lens. This new lens is called an intraocular lens (or IOL). When you decide to have cataract surgery, your doctor will talk with you about IOLs and how they work.
People who have had cataract surgery may have their vision become hazy again years later. This is usually because the eye’s lens capsule has become cloudy. The lens capsule is the part of your eye that holds the IOL in place. Your ophthalmologist can use a laser to open the cloudy capsule and restore clear vision. This is called a capsulotomy.
Cataracts are a very common reason people lose vision, but they can be treated. You and your ophthalmologist should discuss your cataract symptoms. Together you can decide whether you are ready for cataract surgery.
When you have a cataract, your eye’s naturally clear lens is cloudy. Eventually your vision will be hazy and blurry. The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery. With cataract surgery, your cloudy lens is replaced with an artificial lens.
You do not have to have cataract surgery if your symptoms are not too bad. You should consider surgery when cataracts keep you from doing your daily activities.
You may be able to slow the development of cataracts by protecting your eyes from the sun.
It is important to see your ophthalmologist regularly to check for eye and vision changes
If you have any questions about your vision, speak with your ophthalmologist. He or she is committed to protecting your sight.