At birth, our natural lens is clear and focuses light onto the retina for clear vision. As we age, proteins begin to develop in the lens, causing it to yellow, harden and become cloudy, preventing light from properly reaching your retina. This clouding of the natural lens is known as a cataract and is usually a result of the natural aging process. Everyone over the age of 50 will at some point develop cataracts.
As the natural lens becomes cloudier, vision becomes compromised. People with cataracts may experience:
- Gradual dulling of colors
- Sensitivity to light, especially sunlight
- Difficulty reading in low light
- Halos or glare when driving
- Frequent changes to your glasses prescription
When cataracts begin to develop, you may notice that night driving becomes more difficult, as you experience more halos and glare from oncoming headlights, and find it harder to see street signs. You may also feel you need more light to read than in the past as your cataracts worsen. These vision changes are often subtle and gradual, but cataracts will continue to progress until eventually there is a complete loss of vision in your eye.
Non-surgical treatments such as glasses may be used to minimize the symptoms of early cataracts, temporarily improving your vision. However, surgery to remove the cataract is the only cure. You should consider surgery when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with your daily activities.
With over 3 million cataract surgeries performed each year, lens replacement remains the most frequently performed surgery in the U.S. and is one of the safest as well. During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear lens implant. The lens implant is made of a pliable material, which is folded and inserted through a narrow incision into the eye. That lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL), and the choice of implants is critical to the way you’ll see for the rest of your life.
During your Lens Evaluation visit, Dr. Lalin will ask you about your career, hobbies, activity level, night vision requirements and other and vision needs, recommending lens implant options that will deliver the range of vision you desire after surgery. Remember that this surgery is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the resulting vision will be what you enjoy the rest of your life. Having this discussion and custom-matching the right lens implant to your lifestyle, is a critical part of your Lens Evaluation.