June is Cataract Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to learn about the eye condition. Cataracts affect more than 3.5 million Canadians every year, making it one of the most common aging eye conditions. But it’s one many people may not understand very well.
“Developing cataracts as we get older is like greying hair – it’s inevitable for most people, and it can happen early on or can develop slowly over many years,” says Canadian ophthalmologist Dr. Kathy Cao. “It’s so important to be proactive about eye health, especially if you notice changes in your vision.”
What are cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the lens in the eye becomes cloudy as natural proteins build up over time, leading to clouded vision, light sensitivity and fading colours. If left untreated, cataracts can cause significant vision loss and blindness.
At the early stages, cataracts only need to be observed – so annual eye appointments are important. When symptoms become more intrusive, it’s time to discuss cataract surgery.
“While every surgery should be carefully considered, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common procedures in the world. It’s done on an outpatient basis, which means patients go home the same day of surgery, and they often start to notice vision improvements with quick recovery,” says Dr. Cao.
How to prepare
Cataract surgery involves taking out the natural lens in the eye and then replacing it with an artificial lens. When it comes to lenses, one size does not fit all. Patients may not realize there are different types of lenses for their surgery, but in fact, there are many options to meet specific vision goals.
“Your surgeon needs to understand what you as a patient want, the kinds of activities you engage in and your expectations. For example, do you rely on near vision as a bookworm or distant vision as a cyclist? Most people don’t realize how much of our everyday activity is done at an arm’s length, like working at a computer or putting on makeup. These are important things to think about when choosing a lens,” says Dr. Cao.
If you’re considering cataract surgery, you should have an informed conversation with your surgeon about your vision goals to select the cataract lens replacement that’s right for you.
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