Have you or someone you know been told that you have a cataract? A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens of the eye that occurs as we get older. After about 40 or 50 years of age, everyone has at least a mild degree of clouding of the lens.
This process may not interfere with your vision at first but can progress over the years to the point where it causes blurry vision and glare. When a cataract first starts to develop, it can cause your eyeglass prescription to change. Updating your glasses can help, but eventually your vision gets blurry to a point where changing your eyeglass prescription won’t help. When a cataract is moderate or severe, it’s a lot like looking through a dirty window, and no change in glasses will make it clearer.
When a cataract reaches a point that it interferes with your vision, cataract surgery is the only option to improve your vision. There is no medicine or eye drops that can help. In cataract surgery, your surgeon removes the cloudy cataract lens and inserts a clear, artificial lens.
One of the most common questions that I get asked is, “How do I know my cataract is ready for surgery?” This is a decision that you will make with advice from your eye doctor. Your decision is mainly based on your symptoms. You should consider how much the blurry vision and glare from the cataract is interfering with your lifestyle and activities. These symptoms may make it difficult to drive, use computers, see your phone, or do activities like reading, watching television, or sports.
Like any surgery, cataract surgery should involve careful consideration of the risks and benefits. The main benefit is improved vision. Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure with rare complications, but like any surgery, there are some risks. There is a small risk of infection, swelling, retinal detachment, implant lens dislocation, and other problems that may potentially cause discomfort, redness and vision loss.
For most people, the risk of complications from cataract surgery is low. There are certain things that can lead to increased risk of surgery, such as other pre-existing eye conditions like glaucoma, retinal problems or previous trauma. In your preoperative evaluation, your eye surgeon should discuss any other concerns with you so that you understand the potential risks of surgery.
If you and your cataract surgeon decide to proceed with cataract surgery, recent advances in technology have resulted in improved safety and more options for vision correction than ever before. You should discuss these options with your doctor so you understand the pros and cons of each option and how the potential benefits may affect your vision and your need for glasses after surgery.
Dr. Allan Rutzen is an ophthalmologist who has particular expertise in laser-assisted cataract surgery. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Rutzen Eye Specialists & Laser Center at 410-975-0090. His office is located at 489 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park. Visit online at www.rutzeneye.com for more information.