Even if your vision is fine right now, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the signs of cataracts, since it’s the leading cause of low vision in the United States — it’s responsible for 50% of all cases. If you’ve noticed some problems with your vision, then it’s particularly important for you to know how to spot cataracts.
In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, Dr. Kim Doan and our teams here in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, California, have put together this information to help you understand more about this common condition and what you can do about it.
In many ways, your eye is like a camera. The muscles in your iris (the colored part of your eye) contract and relax as needed to make your pupil bigger or smaller depending on how much light is needed — just like the aperture on a camera. And also just like a camera, your eye has a powerful lens that focuses on external images. If that lens in either the camera or your eye becomes damaged or impaired, the picture will be blurry.
When you have cataracts, the lens in your eye has become damaged (typically because the proteins in the tissue have deteriorated) and it’s like looking through a smudge on your camera lens.
Cataracts by the numbers
Because it’s Cataract Awareness Month, it’s a good time to get an overview of the cataract statistics in the United States.
- 22 million: The number of Americans over 40 with cataracts
- 50: The percentage of those over 80 with cataracts (30.1 million)
- 1 million: The number of cataract surgeries performed every year
- 95: The percentage of cataract surgeries performed without complications
As the most commonly performed surgical procedure in this country, cataract surgery has become routine and is considered extremely safe and effective. It’s also the number one cause of blindness, so ignoring the problem can be devastating.
Signs you may have cataracts
You may have the beginning stages of cataracts and not even know it. Typically, they begin to form in your 40s, but many people don’t notice the symptoms for about 20 years. This is a slow-moving deterioration. When you do start seeing the signs, here’s what you may notice:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Ghost-like images
- Feel like you have film over your eyes
- Feel like you’re looking at life through a fog or cloud
- The ambient light always seems too dim
- Hard to read
- Bright light is jarring
- You have to change your eyeglass prescription more often, but it doesn’t help
- Difficulty driving at night
- Visible milky film over your pupil
If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s best to make an appointment with Dr. Doan right away. She can run some diagnostic tests and determine if you have cataracts, and if so, what stage they’re in.
What can be done about cataracts?
In many cases, cataracts don’t need immediate surgery. In fact, you can live with the early development of cataracts for many years by managing the symptoms with adjustments to lighting and your prescription lenses.
When your vision becomes severely impaired, it’s time to swap out your old lens for a new one. Dr. Doan has extensive experience with this procedure and has replaced countless cloudy lenses with artificial intraocular lenses.
Your new lens is available with many features, including fixed-focus for a certain distance, accommodating-focus that allows shifts in your focus from near to far, multifocal that works like bifocal glasses, and astigmatism corrective lenses.
The procedure happens here in our office, only takes about an hour, and requires only a local anesthetic.
After the procedure, you’ll notice that colors are clearer, lights are brighter, and reading is a lot easier. Your new clear lens makes a world of difference. You may have some discomfort for a few days, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. And you won’t feel the new lens itself.
Now that you know more about cataracts, you can keep your eye out for the signs. And if you’re already seeing them, come see us. Call either of our locations in Newport or Huntington Beach or request an appointment online today.