If you’ve just been diagnosed with cataracts, you probably have a lot of questions racing through your mind, including, “How do I know when to have cataract surgery?” or even, “Will I be able to keep my vision with cataracts?”
First, keep in mind that cataracts often sound scarier than they are. The truth of the matter is that cataracts are incredibly common and occur naturally (although knowing how to prevent cataracts may certainly help put off their appearance). In fact, more than 25 million Americans over the age of 40 have been diagnosed with cataracts and that number is only expected to grow
Being diagnosed with cataracts doesn’t necessarily mean that surgery is the best option for dealing with your cataracts, at least not right away. In fact, it is possible to live and see normally with cataracts for quite some time. So, how do you know when to have cataract surgery? Let’s find out.
When is the right time to have cataract surgery?
When you visit your doctor and ask, “How do you know when it’s time for cataract surgery?” chances are that they will give you a multi-pronged answer. That’s because there’s no singular sign or age that indicates whether or not you should have cataract surgery soon.
It can be hard to identify the early signs of cataracts in yourself. Initially, cataracts can have little noticeable effect on your sight and may require little more than a change in your glasses or contact prescription. However, as you continue to age, the odds that you’ll need cataract surgery increase.
What is the average age for cataract surgery?
While many people are diagnosed with cataracts in their 40s, the average age for cataract surgery is 65. That said, there is no one age that’s better for cataract surgery than others. In fact, the average age for cataract surgery has been decreasing over the past few years. Ultimately, you and your doctor decide when to perform your cataract surgery.
Note: If you have fast-growing cataracts, consult with your eye doctor about surgical options as soon as possible, no matter your age, to minimize negative effects.
The 5 signs that it’s time to have cataract surgery
Alright, so you might not need cataract surgery right away. But what if you do? And how do you know if your cataracts are getting worse? Does when to have cataract surgery ever become imminently clear?
These are the signs and facts doctors check before helping you decide when the right time to have cataract surgery is for you.
1. Your cataracts are making daily life more difficult
As your cataracts worsen, their effects on your vision will become more pronounced. Blurry, dim, or yellowed vision may become more common, making work and other daily activities more challenging than usual.
2. It becomes difficult to see at night
In general, cataracts can make it difficult to see in low light. The “halo” effect caused by cataracts can make it very difficult to drive safely at night. If you are having a hard time driving at night, you might not need to debate when to have cataract surgery for too much longer.
3. Increased sensitivity to glare
As cataracts progress, your eyes can become more sensitive to glare, making outdoor activities more challenging than they used to be. This sensitivity is also known to cause headaches. (Check out our article Can Cataracts Cause Headaches? for more information).
4. Pronounced differences in vision between eyes
It’s fairly common for people to have one eye that’s better than the other. However, if one eye is becoming noticeably worse than the other to the point that it affects your distance vision, it may be time to ask your doctor about cataract surgery.
5. Other solutions aren’t working anymore
As previously noted, many patients are able to manage their cataracts with prescription lenses, adjusted lighting, and even wearing visors or hats that block the sun. (Read more on the sun and cataracts in our article Can the Sun Cause Cataracts?). But when even these solutions seem to be losing their effectiveness, you may be ready to consider cataract surgery.
What you need to know about cataract surgery
If one or more of the five factors listed above accurately describe your vision and you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, it may be time to consider your surgical options.
Feeling worried? Don’t. Cataract surgery is fairly simple and is the most frequently performed surgery today. Yes, there are risks, but they are generally minor. Here’s what you’ll want to know once you and your doctor decide when to have cataract surgery performed.
- How it works: Cataract surgery is performed by a doctor who makes incisions in the affected eye and removes cataracts. While this used to involve blades, Eye Center of Texas offers blade-free cataract surgery using 3D modeling and precision lasers to remove cataracts.
- Safety: Thanks to local anesthesia, most patients experience little-to-no discomfort during cataract surgery. While a small number of patients may experience side-effects like inflammation, cataract surgery is incredibly safe. According to a 12-year study, 99.5% of patients experienced no complications in the years following surgery.
- Recovery: Many patients ask us, “How long do you need off work after cataract surgery?” Good news: Most people are able to resume normal activities within one to three days of surgery! However, it can take about a month to recover in full, during which time you may expect some cloudy vision and will need to wear special sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Still wondering when to have cataract surgery? Eye Center of Texas can help.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cataract surgery and are living with worsening vision and growing discomfort, the answer to the question, “How do I know when to have cataract surgery?” can often be found with a simple telephone call and a doctor’s appointment.
Eye Center of Texas has helped thousands of Houstonians enjoy clear and renewed vision. In fact, over 275 Houston-area eye doctors will refer their patients only Eye Center of Texas, and Dr. Mark Mayo is one of the top 10 LenSx laser cataract surgeons in the United States.
Curious about the types of cataract surgery available? Ready to see clearly again? Find out if it’s finally time for cataract surgery by scheduling an appointment online or giving us a call at 713-797-1010 today.
More Helpful Articles by Eye Center of Texas: