Claudine Klose, 63, lives on a farm in New York's Hudson Valley. She had successful cataract surgery in 2013 and shared her experience recently with NIH MedlinePlus magazine.
What did you notice about your vision that told you something was wrong?
In the fall of 2012, my vision began to blur, and I was seeing double images of bright lights at night. I even saw three moons. It was very disturbing.
Even though I'd been treated for iritis (an inflammation of the colored part of the eye surrounding the pupil) since the early 1990s, and I'd been diagnosed with small cataracts in 2004, I had no idea it was the cataracts. Until I had my annual eye exam in early 2013, that is.
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. It affects your vision. Cataracts are very common in older people.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. Common symptoms are blurry vision, colors that seem faded, glare and halos from lights, and reduced night vision.
Cataracts usually develop slowly. New glasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses can help at first.
Surgery is an option. It involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
Source: National Eye Institute
How bad was your vision?
My vision had deteriorated so badly that I was unable to legally drive, even with my glasses on. So my ophthalmologist sent me to an eye surgeon, who explained that surgery was the best—and only—option; that there are no drugs to treat cataracts.
Were you worried about having surgery?
Yes. Having never had eye surgery, my major concerns were how painful it would be and how long it would take to recover.
Where did you go for information about cataracts and surgery?
I used MedlinePlus (www.medlineplus.gov) to check on the procedure and any drawbacks. Also, the New York City cataract specialists that my local surgeon referred me to (a father-and-son team) gave me lots of helpful information in advance.
Did the procedure take long?
No. I had both eyes done two weeks apart. The procedures were completely painless and took about 15 minutes each, with brief follow-up visits the next morning.
What kind of lenses did you have implanted?
Because of the iritis, I could not have them implant multifocal lenses, which would allow me to see both near and far. So I chose lenses for clear distance sight, and I wear reading glasses to see up close.
What was the result?
Immediately, I could read the signs across the street from the clinic. There weren't any complications either, although I did have to use a lot of drops for several months after to control the iritis.
Today, when I'm driving, I see every leaf on every tree. It's great!
What would you tell others?
- Don't be afraid of cataract surgery.
- Learn as much as possible before you have surgery.
- Use your eye drops as prescribed after surgery.
- Always wear sunglasses (to protect against ultraviolet light).
- Get regular comprehensive dilated eye exams.