Are you living with cataracts? If you have a cataract, you may be wondering when you should have cataract surgery.

For the twenty-four million people in the United States living with a cataract, surgery is a big decision. Due to its progressive nature, the presence of a cataract does not always mean you should undergo surgery.

Those with cataracts may not even realize they have them at first. But when you find their symptoms affecting your everyday life, it becomes beneficial to consider how surgery can help.

Keep reading to learn seven signs you should consider cataract surgery and how life-changing this procedure can be.

What Is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens in your eye. It results from a buildup of proteins. When proteins build up, they start to clump together and interfere with light's ability to pass through the lens.

Vision can become clouded because the lens focuses light rays onto the retina to create clear images. There are several reasons why a cataract can develop.

They can commonly occur as a natural part of the aging process, as proteins begin breaking down. Some people are born with a cataract, while others result from trauma to the eye. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can also increase an individual's risk of developing a cataract.

Because they are gradually progressive, a cataract develops slowly and worsens with age. In fact, many individuals are unaware they even have them in their early stages. They often become noticeable later in life, around the age of sixty.

What Is Cataract Surgery?

The only way to remove a cataract and make your vision clear again is to undergo cataract surgery. Having cataract surgery is the only way to treat cataracts effectively.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures you can undergo. Every year, patients have ten million cataract surgeries around the world.

During the procedure, your cataract surgeon will replace the natural lens with a clear artificial one (called an intraocular lens) made of silicone or acrylic. Because cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, you'll be able to return home the same day, although you'll need someone to drive you. The surgery itself takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

Cataract surgery has a very high success rate. With a short recovery period, most individuals see a dramatic improvement in their vision the very next day. With the use of multifocal IOL’s, many patients can significantly reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.

When to Consider Cataract Surgery

Most people with cataracts will reach a point when it becomes more challenging to do the things they love. Having impaired vision that holds you back from everyday activities makes considering cataract surgery a necessity. You may notice signs like:

1. Your vision is blurry

Do images look less sharp than they used to? A cataract can affect your vision at any distance, whether near, far, or intermediate.

If you're having difficulty making out foggy objects and have to strain your eyes to perceive images better, it's an excellent time to consider having cataract surgery.

2. You have difficulty driving at night

Many individuals with cataracts find themselves scheduling their days in a particular way to avoid having to drive at night. The presence of a cataract can impair your ability to perceive contrast and light properly.

Halos and glare can appear around traffic lights and tail lights. Seeing these visual aberrations can make it dangerous to navigate roads in the dark.

If it starts feeling unsafe to drive at night, talk to your eye doctor about cataract surgery, and find someone to take you where you need to go at night in the meantime.

3. You're seeing double

If you look at an object, do you sometimes see two images of it? Double vision can be an early indicator of a cataract.

Whether in one eye or both, double vision can cause dizziness. Surgery can make it so images only appear as they should: once.

4. Your vision gets better, and then worse

While it might be surprising, a cataract can temporarily cause up-close vision to improve in its early stages. Referred to as "second sight," you may find you longer need reading glasses.

Unfortunately, this improvement does not last. The cataract continues to develop and worsens your overall vision.

5. You keep needing to change your prescription

Individuals with cataracts often have to change their prescriptions frequently. As cataracts progress, your current glasses or contact prescription are no longer adequate.

If it feels like your eyes won't stabilize, it may be a sign that your cataracts have progressed and made your eyesight worse. If this is the case, cataract surgery can help.

6. You need more light for up-close tasks

Do you find yourself having to turn on an extra light to read? When completing tasks that require attention to fine detail, a cataract can make it, so you need higher brightness to see things that are right in front of you.

Finding it more challenging to see things up-close can also signify presbyopia. It's not uncommon to develop cataracts and presbyopia at the same time. Depending on the IOL you choose, you may be able to treat both presbyopia and cataracts during cataract surgery.

6. Colors look faded

A cataract can cause colors to look less vibrant than they used to. When images filter through a clouded lens, not only do they look blurry, but hues can also look muddy. Cataract surgery can make colors look bright, vivid, and detailed once again.

7. You're unable to complete everyday activities

If a cataract gets to the point that it interferes with your daily life, it's time to take action. A cataract can make it difficult or impossible to complete tasks like cooking, cleaning, or reading. When it does, this is the point that most cataract surgeons recommend having cataract surgery.

Are one or more of these cataract symptoms negatively affecting your quality of life? Schedule a cataract consultation at Dell Laser Consultants in Austin, TX, to learn more!