Cataracts are a very common age-related condition. Although they can form at any age, most people begin to develop them around age forty.
Cataracts can cause various bothersome visual symptoms that can only be eliminated through cataract surgery. LASIK, on the other hand, can only correct refractive errors and will not prevent any vision changes caused by other eye conditions.
What is LASIK?
LASIK surgery is a refractive laser eye surgery. This means it uses a laser in order to correct your refractive error.
LASIK can correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. These refractive errors are caused by the shape of the eye or the cornea.
The cornea, the clear front part of your eye, helps to bend (or refract) light that passes through the eye, ensuring the focal point hits the retina. When your cornea has irregularities in its shape, light doesn’t refract correctly, causing your vision to be blurry at certain distances, or in the case of astigmatism, at all distances.
Additionally, if your eye is too short or too long, this can also cause a refractive error because the light will not land directly on the retina. During LASIK surgery, your LASIK surgeon will use a laser to reshape your cornea in order to correct your natural refractive error.
This allows you to see clearly with less dependence on visual aids like contact lenses or glasses. However, LASIK can only correct refractive errors.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts affect a different part of your eye. They form inside the eye’s natural lens.
This lens is supposed to be clear so that light can travel through it. As you age, the proteins inside your lens begin to break down and clump together, causing the lens to become cloudy.
Cataracts tend to form very slowly, and it can take years for them to have any effect on your vision. While scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes cataracts, they’re most often associated with aging.
The older you are, the more likely you are to have cataracts. But you’re also at higher risk for cataracts if you have diabetes or previous eye trauma.
Since cataracts develop so slowly, you may not notice any symptoms at first. But as your lenses get cloudier and cloudier, you may notice several symptoms, including:
Blurry visionPoor night visionGlareHalosLight sensitivityDecreased ability to see a contrast in color
When undiagnosed, cataracts are often mistaken for worsening vision. If you have an existing refractive error, you may think your prescription has just gotten worse.
You may be able to combat the changes in your vision due to cataracts with updated glasses or contacts prescriptions at first. However, at some point, you will need cataract surgery to fully correct and restore your vision.
What is Cataract Surgery?
If you have cataracts, you may not need cataract surgery right away. Since cataracts take years to develop, your eye doctor may diagnose them before they cause any visual problems.
This is the ideal situation. You should see your eye doctor regularly so they can diagnose your cataracts early and monitor them as they develop.
Your eye doctor will recommend cataract surgery when necessary. It’s often recommended that you have cataract surgery when your cataracts begin to affect your quality of life.
You should get cataract surgery when your cataract symptoms make it harder to accomplish your daily tasks. Cataract surgery itself is relatively simple and is performed as an outpatient procedure.
During cataract surgery, your natural lens will be removed in order to get rid of the cataract that’s formed inside it. The lens is then replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens or IOL.
After cataract surgery, you’ll be able to see again without any of the visual problems caused by your cataracts. You may be able to see even better than you could before you had cataracts if you opt to spend a little more on a premium lens.
Will I Need Cataract Surgery After LASIK?
LASIK will not eliminate the need for cataract surgery when you develop cataracts in the future. LASIK, while it can provide you greater visual freedom with reduced dependence on visual aids for years to come, does not affect the natural lens inside the eye.
Not only does LASIK not treat cataracts, but it will not prevent them or lessen your chances of developing them. If you develop cataracts in the future, you may still need cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens.
It is important to note that LASIK and cataract surgery are two different procedures with different outcomes. If you have any concerns about your vision or the potential need for cataract surgery in the future, it is best to discuss your options with your eye doctor.
Your eye doctor can help you decide if LASIK is right for you!
Do you want to learn more about LASIK or cataract surgery? Schedule an appointment at Chicago Cornea Consultants in Highland Park, IL, today!