What Happens When You Have Cataracts? | Westlake Eye Specialists

What Happens When You Have Cataracts?

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Cataracts are one of, if not the most common eye-related conditions you can have. Chances are, you’ll get them at some point in your life.

Some people get them earlier in life than others, and some people who have them don’t need immediate treatment. But what do you do when you get cataracts?

When will you get them? How do you know if you have them? Here are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to cataracts:

Cataract Risk Factors

You can get cataracts at any age. Some people are even born with cataracts.

But the most common kind of cataracts come as a result of aging. This doesn’t mean that you have to be elderly to develop cataracts.

Even being 40 or older increases your risk of getting cataracts. Once you reach 40, you should have semi-regular eye exams so you can keep track of your eye health and any potential cataracts.

Other risk factors besides age include:

  • Having diabetes
  • Sun damage
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet or obesity
  • Use of corticosteroids

Some of these risk factors are avoidable, so you can lower your risk by trying to be healthy. But you can’t prevent cataracts.

The best you can do is to stay healthy and be aware of any visual problems. Staying vigilant can make a big difference.

Visual Symptoms

Only an eye doctor or eye care professional can diagnose cataracts. But you can tell if you may have cataracts if you have the following symptoms:

  • Blurry or cloudy vision
  • Experiencing excessive glare or halos around light sources
  • Having trouble seeing in low light
  • Finding it difficult to see contrast with colors
  • Seeing double in one eye

Often, cataracts may be mistaken for presbyopia, which is age-related farsightedness. But cataracts don’t cause farsightedness.

They make it seem like you have a hard time seeing up close because they make it harder to see without direct light. You can usually tell if the issue is cataracts because reading glasses or a stronger prescription won’t help.

If you have any of these symptoms, get an eye exam as soon as possible so you can get a diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Once your cataracts have been diagnosed, you and your eye doctor can discuss treatment. Eye doctors recommend cataract surgery when your cataracts begin to interfere with your quality of life.

The reason they don’t recommend it right away is that some people may never need treatment. Cataracts can develop over a period of years.

Some advance so slowly they don’t cause significant visual problems. But when your cataracts present symptoms that make it difficult to perform daily activities, your doctor will suggest treating them. Treatment for cataracts comes in only one form and that’s cataract surgery.

Cataract Surgery

The only effective form of treatment for cataracts is having cataract surgery. But having cataract surgery is quite simple.

In fact, it’s one of the most commonly performed medical procedures in the US. It involves creating a very small incision in the eye and then removing your lens, which removes the cataract.

Both the lens and pieces of the cataract are gently removed through the incision. Your natural lens is then replaced with an artificial lens called an IOL, or intraocular lens.

Cataracts can cause blindness when they become advanced enough. If you have them removed with cataract surgery, you’ll regain your clear vision.

Concerned about cataracts and if you may need cataract surgery? Schedule a cataract screening at Westlake Eye Specialists in Austin, TX today!