Cataracts and Clear Vision for Longer Life

An older couple smiles joyfully at the camera.

Anyone considering cataract surgery knows that the most obvious benefit is clearer vision. But the procedure can have other unexpected health benefits in improving life quality and psychological health. In fact, some studies have connected cataract surgery with the likelihood of living longer.

Before considering surgery, here is what you should know about cataracts:

A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye or its surrounding transparent membrane. The clouding obstructs the passage of light, which can mean diminished vision. 

There are 3 types of cataracts: 

  1. Subscapular, occurring in the back of the lens.
  2. Nuclear, forming deep in the central zone of the lens.
  3. Cortical, a white opaque wedge that forms on the periphery of the lens and works its way to the center.

Causes and symptoms

Causes of cataracts can range from eye trauma to chronic health issues like diabetes. People with a family history of cataracts, who smoke, or consistently expose themselves to the sun’s UV rays are likely prone to cataracts. 

The type of cataract will affect the symptoms the sufferer experiences. For example, when a nuclear cataract first appears, it typically results in a temporary improvement in close-up vision. That improved vision is usually short-lived and will recede as the cataract worsens. On the other hand, and more troubling, is that a subscapular cataract will frequently not produce symptoms until it is well-developed. 

Treating options for cataracts

Early symptoms of cataracts—blurry vision, decreased acuity, etc.—can be treated with eyeglasses with strong bifocal lenses, and other visual aids. However, surgery could be the best remedy when cataracts significantly impact vision and begin to affect daily life. 

Cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless out-patient procedure. The surgeon makes tiny incisions in the peripheral part of the cornea to open the lens bag. Inserting a small ultrasonic probe into the eye, the surgeon dissolves the cataract and removes the remaining cataract material. Then the surgeon places a clear lens implant through the original incision.

In about 99% of cataract surgeries, the incision is self-healing and does not require stitches. The patient may experience mild inflammation in the eye, causing slightly blurry vision during the first week. The overwhelming majority of patients (about 98%) recover quickly and with no complications.

Studies reveal the benefits of cataract surgery

Debilitating cataracts hinder everyday tasks like reading and driving. Sufferers feel less independent and may withdraw from normal social activities. One study found that the overall quality of life for patients who underwent cataract surgery significantly improved. 

Vision loss is a major contributing factor to auto accidents for people aged 65 and older. Another study on cataract surgery revealed a 16 percent decrease in the chances of having a hip fracture within one year after cataract surgery.

Finally, an extended study associated cataract surgery with better long-term survival of older people. The bottom line is that when someone undergoes cataract surgery and improves their vision, they tend to live longer, more fulfilling lives. 

Cataracts can destroy your vision and cramp your lifestyle. Cataract surgery can be an easy, viable option. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, contact your eye specialist. You can schedule an eye appointment with the Florida Eye Specialists at one of the eight convenient locations in the Jacksonville, Saint Augustine, and Palatka areas.