Aging is the great equalizer.
There’s nothing we can do to avoid the passing years and changes to our bodies as we age — which seems to happen quicker than they once did. While these changes do provide wisdom and character, they can also be a source of frustration for many. One such frustration our bodies encounter as we age is the development of cataracts.
Unfortunately, cataracts are inevitable. We are all born with a natural lens inside each eye. These lenses bend light which allows our eyes to perceive the world around us. When we are born, this natural lens is usually clean and crystal-clear.
As we age, the proteins in our lens change. This causes the lens to appear cloudy, making our vision blurry and less colorful. Some of us may not see changes in our vision until much later in life, but others notice them in their 50s and 60s.
While everybody will eventually develop cataracts, suffering from them is not a requirement!
Dr. Nicholas T. Ranson, a cataract and oculoplastic surgeon at Spokane Eye Clinic, said cataract surgery is an easy way to fix this inevitable problem and is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the world.
“Cataract surgery has an extremely high success rate and a relatively low risk factor,” Dr. Ranson said. “Patients usually recover quickly, and their quality of life improves dramatically.”
Not only can cataract surgery improve quality of life, a recent study shows that cataract surgery can also improve longevity of life. A 20-year study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, conducted among 74,044 women aged 65 and older, all of whom had cataracts, found a 60 percent lower risk of death among the 41,735 women with their cataracts removed.
“Having great vision is key to maintaining long-term independence. Preserving the ability to drive is important to so many people,” Dr. Ranson explains. “Clear vision also effectively prevents unnecessary slips and falls. The clear vision from having cataract surgery has a distinct cascading effect improving and extending life.”
Cataract surgery replaces your natural lens with an artificial lens. The surgery itself typically lasts less than 10 minutes. Cataract surgery does not involve sutures. Patients leave the surgery center the same day with prescription eye drops and a patch over their eye, which stays in place for the remainder of the day.
Vision improves as the eye heals and drops are typically used for a month after surgery. Patients receive a new prescription for glasses about one month after surgery to accommodate their improved vision. If an additional cataract in the other eye needs to be corrected, patients can have surgery performed at a later date for minimal impact on daily living.
If you or a loved one is noticing the early signs of cataracts or have been putting off the surgery, visit your local eye clinic and talk to your doctor today.