In the early stages of cataracts, you might notice that some of the color and clarity has left your life. Though cataract treatment has become more effective and accessible, not everyone has the means to undergo surgery right away. With a specialist, you can begin planning the procedure while managing symptoms in the meantime.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, and Sarah Quan, OD, both diagnose cataracts and walk you through your treatment options to help preserve or restore your sight.
It’s estimated that half of all Americans have cataracts by age 75, and risk factors like genetics, sun exposure, and diabetes can increase your likelihood of developing them.
Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye, which focuses light back into the retina, begins to degrade. As the proteins in your eye clump together, it makes your lenses less transparent and flexible. This is what causes the cloudy, frosted look.
It can be difficult to diagnose cataracts before the lenses become visibly clouded. You might struggle with blurry vision, but replacing your prescription doesn’t seem to help. As the cataracts progress, you will notice more symptoms, including:
- Faded colors, like you’re seeing through a filter
- Double vision, usually in one eye
- Poor night vision
- Halos around lights
- Light sensitivity
In the early stages, you may not be referred for surgical intervention right away. Instead, you can treat symptoms with simple changes at home.
If your vision is only mildly affected by cataracts, you can do a few things to alleviate discomfort or difficulty with your vision.
- Wear sunglasses and/or a hat to cut down on glare outside
- Change computer screen settings from black and white to an easier color configuration
- Use clip-on magnifiers or customized reading glasses when reading small print
- Reposition lights and lamps so they don’t shine into your face
- Consider not driving at night to prevent accidents
- Use gauze curtains to soften bright sunlight entering your home.
These tips only reduce symptoms of cataracts. To rectify the issue, you’ll need surgical intervention.
When surgery is necessary
Once a lens has begun clouding, there is no way to reverse or stop the process. Researchers are exploring different ways to treat cataracts, but currently surgery is the only way to actually correct the problem.
On the bright side, cataract surgery is extremely fast and effective, only taking a single hour. During the procedure, your surgeon simply removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens, or IOL.
These man-made lenses not only prevent your eye from clouding again, but they can also treat other vision problems. Premium IOLs can correct refractive errors, astigmatism, and more. A multifocal or toric IOL will cost more than a monofocal one, but since you only need cataract surgery once, many people will save up beforehand to purchase them.
If you aren’t ready for surgery or want to postpone surgical intervention to give yourself time to prepare, that is an option we can discuss. As long as your cataracts are not impeding your ability to safely walk and perform daily tasks, you don’t have to undergo surgery right away.
Something amiss with your eyesight? Schedule a consultation by calling 646-453-6506, or book an appointment online.