What To Know About Getting Tested And Treated For Cataracts

If you're experiencing cloudy or dim vision that has gotten worse over the years, you may have cataracts. Cataracts tend to get worse over time, and they can even cause you to lose your sight entirely. Fortunately, diagnosing and treating cataracts is fairly simple. It all starts with an eye exam. Here's what you can expect.

The Comprehensive Eye Examination

If you suspect you have cataracts, your eye doctor will probably do a comprehensive eye examination. During this procedure, the doctor is able to identify the cataracts if you have them, determine how badly they affect your vision, and document the results so their progression can be tracked over the years. A comprehensive eye exam tests all aspects of your vision and includes a visual inspection of your eyes to determine your overall eye health. To look for cataracts specifically, the doctor performs a slit-lamp test. This test magnifies and illuminates the lens of your eye so the doctor can look for cataracts on the surface of the lens.

You may also have your pupils dilated with drops so the middle and back of your lenses can be examined as well since cataracts are not always on the surface of the lens. After these tests, the eye doctor will determine the size and location of the cataracts and plan the best course of treatment.

Regular Eye Testing Is Important

Once you've been diagnosed with cataracts, you'll need to have regular eye exams to keep track of their progression. When cataracts are small, they may not interfere with your vision at all. In fact, you may not even know you have them until your eye doctor finds them on a routine eye examination. That's one reason it is important to have periodic eye checkups to monitor the health of your eyes even if your vision is otherwise okay. Once the cataracts grow large enough to cause vision problems, you may still be able to postpone surgery for a few years by wearing glasses and adjusting your prescription occasionally as the cataracts grow. If your cataracts are very slow growing, they may never get bad enough to require surgery.

However, if your cataracts develop quickly, or they get so large that your poor vision affects your quality of life or makes it unsafe to drive, then cataract surgery might be the best option. During the surgery, the eye doctor removes your clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial lens so your vision is clear once again. Based on the results of your eye examination, your doctor can help you decide if surgery is the best option at the time, or if it is better to postpone it.

Cataracts can affect both eyes or one eye only. If you have them in both eyes and need to undergo surgery, your doctor is likely to do one eye at a time and wait for the treated eye to heal before doing the second surgery. For more information, talk to a professional like Mid-America Vision Center.