Cataracts can severely impact your eyesight and enjoyment of life. However, today’s treatments can help you manage them so your sight can continue to enrich your life. Protecting your eyesight and maintaining the health of your eyes should be top priorities, particularly as you age or if you have a family history of eye health issues.
This article will explore how cataracts impact vision so you’re prepared to make an informed decision if you must manage the condition.
What is Your Vision Like with Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the internal lens in the eye. The cloud blocks light that normally passes through the lens, which can make an image appear blurry or unfocused.
Another common symptom is glare and light sensitivity. This makes night driving dangerous, as the light from other cars and street lamps can create glare or physical pain in the eye.
Additional symptoms include:
- Color changes
- Frequent changes in your vision prescription
- Second sight, which is an improvement in vision
Cataracts are painless, so you could become aware of one when it impacts your sight, or when your eye doctor provides a diagnosis following an exam.
If left untreated, a cataract could lead to blindness in the affected eye. Fortunately, having regular eye exams allows your eye doctor to establish a baseline to monitor and manage the condition.
Do Cataracts Affect Near or Far Vision?
According to the National Eye Institute, there are two ways that a cataract affects vision. The protein in the eye’s lens begins to thicken. As the protein clump enlarges over time, it affects the amount of light that enters through the lens into the optic nerve, which makes far and near vision blurry.
The second way a cataract affects both near and far vision is when the lens changes to a yellow or brown color over time. As the lens changes, you might notice that everything appears “browner.” Over time, as the color becomes darker, it’s more difficult to read and do other activities. The discoloration doesn’t affect the sharpness of an image, but it does limit both near and far vision.
Do Glasses Help if You Have Cataracts?
The NIH also notes that in the earlier stages of cataract development, getting new glasses may improve your vision.
However, as the cataract advances, eyeglasses will not be effective and your eye doctor will recommend cataract surgery.
Is Loss of Vision Due to Cataracts Reversible?
Yes it is. Although, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss in this country, yet most cataract vision problems can be improved.
The CDC states that 20.5 million Americans who are 40 or older are impacted by cataracts and by the year 2020, there will be 30.1 million people with cataracts or who’ve had surgery to correct them.
Cataract surgery should be scheduled before it becomes too dangerous to drive or begins to seriously impact your vision.
If you’re concerned about the risk, the American Optometric Association states that cataract surgery is one of the safest, most effective surgical procedures today. Although there are risks, they are rare unless you have another eye disease or serious medical problem.
And, if you’re concerned that you may be too old for the procedure, a 2015 study in Ophthalmology indicates that all mortality rates declined in individuals who had cataract surgery, and most strongly in those who were 84 years of age.
If you’ve waited so long that vision in your eye is severely crippled, you may still be able to recover your vision because of the nature of the surgery. Your lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens that allows you to see clearly.
What Will Happen if Cataracts are Left Untreated?
Unfortunately, your vision will get progressively worse and eventually the protein clump will cover more and more of the lens and you’ll be unable to see. Surgery is the only effective cataract treatment to improve vision and there are few surgical side effects.
If you’re concerned about cataracts and your vision, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor at a nearby Southwestern Eye Center today.