Nearly half of adults have cataracts by the time they turn 75, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). If you're one of the many Americans with this diagnosis, take a look at the answers to the top cataract and cataract surgery questions.
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye's lens that's typically caused by age-related processes. This can cause blurry or hazed vision. Some patients with cataracts also experience double vision, light sensitivity, trouble seeing bright colors, or difficulty seeing at night or in low light.
What Age Do Cataracts Start?
There's no set age when cataracts form. But this eye issue is most likely to start after age 40. As the proteins in the eye's lens break down through the normal aging process, cataracts can develop. According to the AAO, over 24.4 million American adults over the age of 40 have cataracts.
Even though cataracts may start to form at or after age 40, you may not notice significant vision changes or problems until many years later.
How Can an Eye Care Specialist Correct Cataracts?
The most common way to correct this issue is through cataract surgery services. This outpatient surgery requires the ophthalmologist to remove the lens of the eye and replace it with an artificial one. The result is restored clear vision.
If you have concerns about pain or discomfort during the surgery, you don't need to worry. The doctor will use local anesthetics (drops) to numb your eyes. Some patients may also need a sedative. A sedative allows you to relax during the surgery. This can ease anxiety and minimize discomfort. While a sedative can make the procedure easier, you'll remain awake for the surgery.
How Should Patients Prepare for Surgery?
Talk to your eye healthcare provider about specific ways you may need to prepare for this surgery. The doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for up to 12 hours before the procedure. You may also need to stop taking certain medications that can cause excessive bleeding. Never stop taking a prescription or other medication before talking to the doctor first.
What Happens After the Surgery?
If you've had a sedative, you will feel groggy and may need some time to fully wake up. Arrange for a responsible adult to drive you home and stay with you after the procedure—whether you've had a sedative or not. You may have blurry vision immediately after the surgery. In the days after the procedure your vision will improve.
Cataract surgery can take your vision from cloudy to clear in days. With a simple in-office procedure you can restore your eyesight, eliminate sensitivity to light, and sharpen your vision permanently.