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When Is A Cataract Ripe For Surgery?

When Is A Cataract Ripe For Surgery?

Most cataracts don’t just happen overnight. Usually cataracts take years to fully develop. Because of this, cataracts exist in various stages. In the early stages, cataracts just don't affect vision very much and aren’t even technically called cataracts yet. However, similar to how a piece of fruit ripens to be good to eat (and eventually overripens where you don't want to eat it 🤢), cataracts “ripen” over time to be ready for surgery. But when is the right time to get surgery done? When are cataracts ripe?

Because of the insidious onset, cataracts may start to affect your vision long before you are even aware of them. The best time for cataract surgery is as soon as cataracts start to bother your vision. So how do you know if you have cataracts?

What are the early signs of cataracts?

Cataracts cause a variety of symptoms. While blurry vision is the most well-known, cataracts also change the perception of colors and can even cause double vision. Early on, however, you may simply just notice a change in glasses prescription. One of the earliest signs of cataracts is that your vision may become more nearsighted. Sometimes people notice that they can actually read up close better without glasses! Because of this, this myopia from the cataracts is called “second sight”. This is cool, right? Well for the short term; this second sight won’t last forever as the cataract worsens.

Another common early symptom of cataracts is difficulty in low-light situations. Cataracts prevent extra light from reaching the back of the eye. Cataracts can also scatter light and cause extra glare. This can be especially noticeable in dim settings such as restaurants. Waiters and waitresses typically carry around flashlights for this exact reason. Difficulty in low light situations also comes up with driving. It can be more difficult to comfortably react to cars and traffic so many people just simply stop driving at night.

By recognizing these early symptoms of cataracts, it’s possible to catch and treat cataracts early.

Ok, so I have symptoms. Now What?

Can a ripe cataract be determined in the office? Yes and no. Under a microscope we are definitely able to see the cataract forming. We can determine the overall health of the eye to make sure that eye is healthy otherwise. But, cataracts have to be bothersome in order to justify going through surgery to remove them. If the cataract isn’t bothering you, then it isn’t quite "ripe" yet, and waiting a few more months can be an option.

So no need to worry about your cataracts. If they are bothering you, then yes, they are ripe enough for surgery. And cataract surgery does an awesome job of fixing those cataracts for good and restoring your vision.

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