The thought of eye surgery makes many people feel uncomfortable. So when it comes to cataracts, it’s natural to want to know if alternatives to cataract surgery exist. Because cataracts tend to develop slowly, alternatives may work well in the early stages. But most people who are diagnosed with a cataract will eventually need cataract surgery, especially once vision becomes impaired enough to interfere with daily activities.
To better understand the range of treatment options as cataracts progress, let’s first look at what a cataract actually is. Age-related cataracts occur when proteins in the lens of the eye begin to break down and clump together, forming cloudy spots on the normally transparent lens. Over time, the cataract progresses, causing symptoms like blurry or hazy vision, dullness of colors, and glare that makes night driving difficult.
When it comes to viable alternatives, it depends largely on how developed the cataract has become and how much it affects vision. Read on to discover solutions that work for some people at different stages of cataract growth.
Play the Waiting Game
Because cataracts tend to progress very slowly, many people are able to wait until the cataract begins to cause visual symptoms. While there is no way to predict how rapidly a cataract will develop, some people have cataracts for 10+ years before symptoms become pronounced.
Delaying surgery isn’t likely to change the outcome of the procedure. So for most people, cataract surgery isn’t necessary until the cataract interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities like driving or cooking. Only a qualified eye doctor can provide treatment recommendations.
New Glasses Prescriptions
In the early stages of cataracts, eye doctors may recommend a change in glasses or contact lens prescriptions. New eyeglasses may restore good vision for a while. Over time, though, as the cataract worsens, there may come a point where glasses alone cannot correct vision. When new glasses no longer work, your eye doctor may recommend cataract surgery.
Increasing Light When Reading
As we age, we generally need more light to perform everyday activities. Along with reading glasses or contact lenses, brighter light becomes necessary to be able to read, write, and perform other up-close visual activities like sewing, knitting or woodwork.
This need for increased light may happen gradually and almost go unnoticed. When a cataract is present, adding extra light coupled with a new eyeglass prescription, may help manage symptoms for a little bit. Ultimately, though, when the cataract becomes large enough, cataract surgery may be the best solution.
While there is unfortunately no known way to prevent cataracts, studies have shown that certain lifestyle changes may delay cataract growth. Avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight and wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays when outdoors can help as UV light exposure increases the risk of developing a cataract.
Smoking is another risk factor, so quitting this habit may not only be good for your lungs, but for your eyes as well.
When vision becomes significantly impaired from cataracts, and glasses or contact lenses are no longer helping enough, in most cases doctors will recommend cataract surgery. Although it may sound scary, cataract surgery is one of the most common eye surgeries performed today.
Cataract surgery involves replacing the clouded lens of the eye with a clear artificial lens known as an intraocular lens or IOL. There are different types of IOLs ranging from monofocal IOLs, which correct vision at one distance, to advanced IOLs that use pinhole technology to correct near, mid-range and distance vision.
The IC-8 Lens Advantage
If you’ve been diagnosed with a cataract, talk to your doctor about cataract surgery and your replacement lens options. The IC-8 small aperture lens offers many advantages over traditional monofocal and multifocal IOLs. It is designed to provide a natural range of vision from near to far, including mid-range vision needed to read a computer screen, and may increase your freedom from glasses. With the IC-8 lens, one can achieve continuous and seamless vision at all distances. Learn more about the IC-8 lens.