How Often Should I See My Eye Doctor If I Have Cataracts?
Has it become more challenging to see? Do you find it hard to do things you once loved?
If your vision isn’t as clear as before and glasses or contacts are no longer helping, it could be a sign of cataracts. Often, cataracts advance gradually.
You may not realize you have the eye condition until it’s progressed. As time goes on, advanced cataracts result in significant visual changes and may eventually lead to blindness if left untreated.
It’s essential to know when to have your cataracts checked by your ophthalmologist. Routine eye exams help protect your sight and maintain a good quality of life. Keep reading to learn more about how often to see your eye doctor if you have cataracts!
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract occurs when proteins in the eye clump together slowly on your lens. When this happens, it prevents light from properly passing through.
The result is cloudy or hazy vision. Many people with cataracts often describe it as looking through a dirty or foggy window.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The normal aging process usually causes them. They may start developing as early as your forties or fifties.
However, you may not realize you have cataracts at first, as it can take several years before they start affecting your vision. Cataracts can form in both eyes.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, they may affect your eyes differently. Cataracts are not painful and won’t cause irritation as they develop. They will, however, make it more challenging to see as they continue growing.
After receiving a diagnosis of cataracts, you and your eye doctor will work together to develop the best treatment plan. The plan will vary depending on your age, health, and unique vision needs.
Initially, cataracts usually have little effect on your vision, enabling you to see and function comfortably in the short term. Your eye doctor will want to see you at least once every year for an annual eye exam.
Seeing your eye doctor regularly will allow them to monitor the progression of your cataracts and determine when you need surgery to remove them. It’s important to note that every individual’s timeline is different.
If your cataracts are progressing quickly or very advanced, you may need to see your ophthalmologist more often. Your eye doctor will recommend a schedule of appointments based on how your cataracts continue progressing.
During each visit, your eye doctor will recommend the next steps. For instance, your ophthalmologist might suggest making simple adjustments such as using brighter lighting to see better.
They may also continue changing your contact lenses or glasses prescription to address blurry vision until your sight becomes too obscured by cataracts. Your eye doctor will suggest cataract surgery once cataracts interfere with your vision and affect your day-to-day activities.
If you can no longer do the things you love because of obscured or impaired vision, it may be time to consider having cataract surgery.
What are Signs it’s Time for Cataract Surgery?
It could be time to have your cataracts removed if you notice the following symptoms:
- Increased light sensitivity
- Colors looking faded or dull
- Everything has a yellow or brown tint
- Your prescription doesn’t stop changing
- Need for brighter light to see
- The appearance of halos and glares around light sources, especially at night while driving
- Double vision in one eye
- Daily tasks like reading, driving, and cooking have become impossible due to poor vision
If it feels like you’re missing out on your favorite hobbies or are afraid to leave your house due to your worsening vision, cataract surgery is in your best interest.
Cataract Surgery: Traditional and Laser-Assisted
Your ophthalmologist will help you choose an intraocular lens (IOL) that best fits your vision needs and lifestyle before cataract surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing your natural, cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
Removing the natural lens is the only way to treat cataracts and remove them. Achieving this depends on the method used.
At Desert Vision Center, Dr. Tokuhara is proud to offer patients the option to undergo laser-assisted cataract surgery. Both laser-assisted cataract surgery and traditional methods are effective and safe.
Laser cataract surgery is a more advanced method. At Desert Vision Center, in addition to performing laser cataract surgery, we also use a computer-controlled imaging system called ORA.
ORA measures and maps your eye with unmatched precision, creating a customized procedure for you. This significantly improves the accuracy of the most vital steps during cataract removal.
With laser cataract surgery, your surgeon will customize your procedure based on your eye’s specific characteristics, leading to more predictable and safer outcomes. Before cataract removal, you’ll receive numbing drops.
If you’re nervous, you may also take a mild sedative to help you feel more relaxed. Although you’ll be awake the entire time, you won’t experience any discomfort or pain.
Your cataract surgeon will then use a femtosecond laser to access, soften, and fragment the cataract into millions of pieces. The cataract fragments are then easily removed through a microscopic tunnel without the need for sutures.
After removing all the small cataract fragments, a new lens implant (IOL) will be implanted to take the place of your natural lens. IOLs, whether advanced technology, extended range or standard, are permanent and designed to last for the rest of your life.
Cataract surgery is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure. Most patients resume their routine within 1 to 3 days of undergoing the procedure. However, it could take up to three months for your eyes to fully heal and see as clearly as possible.
Wondering When to Have Cataract Surgery?
If you have cataracts and are experiencing vision changes, Desert Vision Center can help. Dr. Tokuhara diagnoses and treats cataracts using state-of-the-art equipment.
Schedule your cataract consultation at Desert Vision Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, to discuss your options!