According to American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) nearly 25.7 million Americans over age 40 have cataracts and the number is projected to increase to 45.6 million by 2050.
Cataracts is a clouding of the eye’s lens and can be only removed with surgical procedure. Many people wonder if they should surgically remove cataract the moment they are diagnosed with it. According to AAO, the answer is no, they should not. AAO recommends that if cataract does not interfere with activities of daily living, individuals should not undergo unnecessary surgery to remove their cataracts.
However, if an individual has blurred vision that makes it difficult to read print or read signs while driving; has disabling glare while driving at night; or has difficulty engaging in hobbies such as knitting, crocheting, or card games, it is time to consider cataract surgery.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has developed a list of four questions people should consider to help determine if they’re ready for cataract surgery:
Are your cataracts impacting your daily or occupational activities?
Symptoms of cataracts include dim, blurry or yellowed vision and can even double vision in a single eye. The lack of contrast and clarity can be difficult for those who need clear vision for work, driving or who enjoy hobbies like reading, cooking or sewing.
Are your cataracts affecting your ability to drive safely at night?
Cataracts can cause halos around lights and difficulty seeing in low-light settings, impacting the ability to safely drive at night. Advanced cataracts can even cause enough vision loss to fail the vision test required for a driver’s license.
Are your cataracts interfering with the outdoor activities you enjoy?
Cataracts can also increase sensitivity to glare, which can be especially troublesome for those who enjoy skiing, surfing and a number of other outdoors activities. They can also cause visual differences from one eye to the other, which can affect the distance vision golfers need.
Can you manage your cataracts in other ways?
Those who decide to put off cataract surgery can make the most of their vision with a few simple tools, such as incorporating brighter lighting and contrasting colors in the home. Polarized sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can reduce glare, while magnifying lenses can make reading easier.
“If cataracts aren’t disrupting your life, you can probably wait and have surgery when they really start to bother you,” said Ravi D. Goel, M.D., cataract surgeon and a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “But for those who are feeling impeded by their blurry or dulled vision, the procedure can make a significant beneficial impact.”