Cataracts are one of the most common age-related vision conditions. Currently, more than 25 million people over the age of 40 have cataracts, and this figure is expected to rise significantly over the next 20-30 years.
A cataract is a clouding of your eye’s lens. It develops when protein fibers in the lens become damaged. Over time as your lens becomes increasingly clouded with cataracts, the condition will result in a gradual deterioration of vision. Without treatment, cataracts can eventually result in blindness.
Cataract surgery can be performed to remove your eye’s clouded natural lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). While this is the only way to remove cataracts from your eye, there is some flexibility regarding when to undergo the procedure. During a comprehensive eye exam and consultation, Dr. Kirk will discuss the factors that go into the timing of this procedure with you to ensure you have the tools necessary to make a fully informed decision about your treatment options.
Managing Cataracts in their Early Stages
For most individuals, there is no rush to undergo cataract surgery. Symptoms develop gradually over the course of years. During the early stages of cataracts, there is generally very little, if any, interference with your vision. If the condition isn’t impacting your daily life, there is no reason to opt for surgery.
As cataracts become more mature, you will eventually experience changes to your vision. You may become more nearsighted, night vision may be impacted and colors may appear less vibrant. Often, you can manage these vision issues with glasses for awhile before cataract surgery is necessary.
Identifying the Right Time for Cataract Surgery
Once you find that your blurry vision is impacting your daily life, it is generally time to consider cataract surgery. You should evaluate the following factors when determining whether you are ready to undergo the procedure:
- Cataracts are impacting your ability to perform daily tasks – If the blurry vision caused by cataracts is making it difficult for you to read, drive, cook, sew, knit, perform your job or engage in your favorite hobbies, then it may be a good time to consider surgery.
- Cataracts are affecting your ability to drive safely at night – In their more advanced stages, cataracts can cause glare and halos around lights, making it difficult to drive safely at night. Eventually, you may even experience enough vision loss to fail the vision test required to maintain your license. These issues can seriously impact your independence. In these situations, cataract surgery will help restore your ability to drive safely.
- Cataracts are impacting your ability to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities – Many Coloradans are outdoor enthusiasts. The increased sensitivity to glare may make skiing, hiking, river trips and other outdoor activities more challenging. If cataracts are limiting your ability to engage in your favorite activities, surgery can help you start enjoying the outdoors again.
- Cataracts are impacting your ability to manage other age-related vision conditions – If you suffer from a condition such as age-related macular degeneration, you may want to undergo cataract surgery earlier so that it will be easier to manage these other conditions.
- You’ve already exhausted other ways to manage your cataracts – As mentioned earlier, cataracts can often be managed with eyeglasses in their earlier stages. You can also manage some of your cataract symptoms by using brighter lighting when performing near-vision tasks, using polarized sunglasses to reduce glare, or reading with a magnifying glass. Once these techniques are no longer able to help you perform daily tasks and activities effectively, it’s time to consider cataract surgery.
Contact our Loveland Cataract Surgeon
Ultimately, the decision to undergo cataract surgery should be made in conjunction with the recommendations of an experienced ophthalmologist. Dr. John Kirk has over 25 years of experience treating cataracts. He’ll discuss your options with you in detail and guide you towards determining the right time for your surgery.
Please contact Kirk Eye Center using the form on this page or call 970-669-1107 today to schedule an eye evaluation. We serve patients in Loveland, Fort Collins and throughout Northern Colorado.