Cloudy or blurry vision may be a sign of a condition that affects many people as they grow older. In fact, it is one of the most prevalent age-related eye conditions in the U.S.
Living with cataracts is a little like trying to see through a foggy window. You might see shapes and movement on the other side but never get a clear enough view to read, navigate around or enjoy what you see. Cataracts tend to develop slowly, but will eventually interfere with your quality of life.
What is Cataract?
Inside the human eye is a clear and flexible lens that focuses light on creating an image on the retina that is interpreted by the brain. For some people, protein builds up in the lens, making it hard to focus that light. This is a cataract.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
Clouded or dim vision
Difficulty seeing at night
The need to turn the light up to see
What Causes Cataracts?
Cataracts usually develop over time, becoming noticeable after age 60. As we age, the lens loses its flexibility and thickens. Tissue begins to break down within the lens and clumps together. This thickening of tissue is further exasperated by chronic medical problems such as diabetes. The more clumps that develop, the denser the lens gets and the harder it is for you to see. Eventually, the lens will cloud up completely and vision becomes impossible.
What is the Treatment for Cataracts?
Initially, the doctor will fit you for prescription glasses to fine-tune your vision despite cataracts. At some point, surgery is necessary to return full vision to you, though. During the procedure, the doctor removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial one. The new lens becomes a permanent part of your eye, allowing you to see clearly once again.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure for most people, so there is no long stay in the hospital. Your vision will improve quickly and your eye will heal completely in a few weeks. Generally, each eye is done separately to allow you time to heal.
There is no good reason to live with cataracts. The surgery comes with few risks, so why not call the doctor and make an appointment. If the diagnosis is cataracts, you can discuss your options and see if surgery is warranted.