What You Need To Know About Cataracts As You Approach Retirement Age

As you approach retirement and the age often referred to as "older-adulthood," there are a lot of changes you expect. Getting out of bed in the morning gets a little more difficult and your joints may ache a bit. One change you may not know to expect, however, is the fading of your vision as you develop cataracts. Almost 20% of adults have cataracts by age 60 – 64, and about 60% ages 80 and older have them. Here's what you need to know about this common eye ailment.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy due to the deformation of certain proteins in this part of the eye.  They develop slowly over time. At the early stages, you won't notice anything different when you look at your eye in the mirror, but as cataracts become worse, your eye actually starts to look cloudy and opaque if you (or someone else) look at it.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

You'll first notice that your vision becomes a little blurrier than normal. Many patients just write this off as an effect of tiredness, or they assume their vision is becoming worse so they buy stronger reading glasses. The blurriness is often most pronounced at night. You might see halos around lights.

Over time, the blurriness becomes more pronounced and harder to ignore. You may also notice that some colors look distorted. Items tend to take on more of a yellow-brown shade. Most people are diagnosed with cataracts by the time they reach this severity. If your cataracts are allowed to progress naturally, your vision will eventually become extremely clouded, making it hard to see at all. Thankfully, most people receive treatment before their cataracts reach this stage.

How are cataracts treated?

The only way to treat cataracts is surgically. Thankfully, cataract surgery is very common (since cataracts are so common) and there are many experienced eye surgeons who can perform it safely and with a very low risk of complications. Surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. You'll be a little uncomfortable for a few days after surgery – and you'll have to wear an eye patch for a while – but you'll be fully healed in about 8 weeks.

If you're noticing that your vision is blurrier or that you're having difficulty seeing clearly at night, talk to your eye doctor. Chances are, you're developing cataracts. It's a completely normal effect of aging, and with a routine surgery, you'll have your vision back. Contact a doctor, like Dixie Ophthalmic Specialists at Zion Eye Institute, for more help.