Distinguishing Cataracts From Other Vision Problems
Many people are generally fearful of developing cataracts as they age but are not exactly sure of what the experience of having cataracts is like and how it can be treated. We’d like to resolve some misconceptions about cataracts, help you understand the signs of cataracts, and arm you with information that helps you distinguish between cataracts and other vision problems.
Let’s start with the facts, according to the National Eye Institute:
- The risk of cataracts goes up with each decade of life beginning at age 40.
- By the age of 80, more than half of Americans will likely have cataracts.
- Women are slightly more likely to have cataracts than men.
- By 2050, the number of people in the U.S. with cataracts is expected to reach 50 million.
Cataracts are a common and well-understood eye condition, prevalent among older adults—and highly treatable.
What are cataracts?
Think of looking through a clear windshield. There are no disruptions to your vision. Now, imagine that the windshield is foggy. You can see but not well. This is like the experience of having cataracts. It is different from experiencing a floater or temporarily blurred vision: When you have cataracts, the cloudiness of the eye’s lens will not go away on its own. As we age, the normal proteins in the eye’s lens begin to break down and cause the lens to become cloudy. This is often a hereditary condition but can be caused by an eye injury, a medical condition, or other factors.
What are the signs of cataracts?
- Your vision is blurred.
- You are seeing double out of one or both eyes.
- You are extra sensitive to light.
- You are having trouble seeing well while driving at night.
- You find yourself needing more light while reading.
- You see yellow or dull, faded colors instead of bright, vibrant colors.
Do cataracts cause blindness?
Many people associate developing cataracts with going blind. Age-related cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, but to be clear: Vision in most people with cataracts, particularly in the United States, can be restored through cataract surgery. With today’s advancements in cataract surgery, the procedure replaces the cloudy lens and restores the patient’s vision. Dr. Eippert, our medical director and respected LASIK surgeon, is also an experienced cataract surgeon in the Cleveland area.
How do you know if you need cataract surgery or LASIK?
While LASIK and traditional cataract surgery are two very different procedures, both have the goal of achieving vision correction. If you are suffering from cataracts, your ophthalmologist will recommend cataract surgery. LASIK is typically not needed following cataract removal. And we generally do not recommend that patients with cataracts undergo LASIK—a laser eye procedure affects your eye’s cornea, not the lens, and it does not remove cataracts.
If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of cataracts, we recommend contacting your eye doctor as soon as possible before symptoms worsen. Our team is here to answer your questions.