Will I Know When It’s Time for Cataract Surgery?

By: Jorge A. Montes, MD

The quick answer is yes!  First we need to know what a cataract is and how it impacts one’s life as its forming.

A cataract is the proteinaceous lens that sits behind the iris, or the colored part of the eye.  As its main job, the lens changes shape to focus light onto the back of the eye and the best vision will be obtained when the lens focuses the light rays exactly onto the back of the eye.  As we age, this clear lens starts to harden and becomes less malleable and is unable to change shape or focus light rays.   This leads to the first signs of an aging lens that we call presbyopia.

Presbyopia is a loss of the ability to change the shape of the lens and consequently, we lose the ability to focus at near.  Activities at near become more cumbersome without the help of readers.  One can remain in this stage as long as the lens remains clear.  With time, UV exposure, smoking, and medical problems like diabetes, the lens not only has hardened, but also will start to change color.  At this point, lens prevents good near vision but also acts like a filter to the incoming light and blurs the vision as well.  People notice this effect commonly at night when surrounded by bright lights, when in fluorescent lighting, or when out in the sun.  When we can pinpoint the cause of a significant loss of vision to a cataract, then cataract surgery can be offered.  Having cataracts alone is not an indication for surgery.  Surgery is not for everyone and is reserved for those with a certain amount of vision loss.  If you feel you have been affected by cataracts and would like to have a professional evaluate your eyes, you can visit us at the DHR Health Eye Institute where we would love to give you a prompt and thorough evaluation.