Will Changing Your Eyeglass Prescription Help Your Vision If You Have A Cataract?

Reviewed by:

Jason Jacobs, MD

Cataracts and vision changes are extremely common as we age. It is estimated that slightly more than 40% of people between ages 50-65 develop a Cataract, 60% of people between 65-75 develop a Cataract and more than 90% of people between 75-85 develop Cataracts. Generally, Cataracts that are due to the normal aging process can progress slowly or moderately whereas Cataracts that are associated with other health problems such as Diabetes may progress more quickly. The key to maintaining a comfortable lifestyle is to understand how to effectively manage the vision changes caused by Cataracts. Getting a new eyeglass prescription may appear to help your vision with a Cataract-but it is really only minimally helpful and temporary.

Patients often wonder, "Can changing my eyeglass prescription help me see better with a Cataract?"  A Cataract is a clouding of the Crystalline Lens of the eye, which is normally clear. As the clouding of the lens increases over time it can cause vision to become hazy and blurred as well as causing double or shadowy vision, glare and halos around lights-especially in dim lighting-and difficulty with sensitivity to light along with night vision problems.

Depending on the physical location of the Cataract within the Crystalline Lens and the type of Cataract that is developing some people report and they "see better than ever with a new eyeglass prescription" or report that  "I no longer need glasses to read-my vision is getting better with the Cataract". This is possibly the case if you are developing a Nuclear Cataract-that is, one that is forming in the nucleus or center of the Crystalline Lens of your eye. As a Nuclear Cataract develops, it causes a change in the refractive power of the Crystalline lens and thus the optical prescription of your eye. Typically, this refractive prescription change will make you less farsighted or more nearsighted. This means that people who were previously farsighted may no longer need eyeglasses to see at a distance and may no longer need eyeglasses to read either. People who were previously nearsighted may need a stronger nearsighted prescription to see far away and those who only wore eyeglasses for near vision and reading may no longer need to. This is sometimes referred to as "Second Sight". You may sense that you require several frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription and that they are preserving your vision. ALL OF THESE VISION CHANGES ARE TEMPORARY AND DO NOT INDICATE THAT YOUR CATARACT IS IMPROVING. In fact, during this period of time it is important to have regular ongoing eye examinations and checkups for your Cataract in order to be sure that the Cataract is indeed the cause of your blurred vision rather than a concurrent eye problem with the Retina such as Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) or Diabetic Retinopathy. Although the eyeglass prescription changes may give some mild temporary improvement in the clarity of vision, there is not likely to be any real improvement in the glare sensitivity, haloes or distortion and yellowing of colors that the Cataract can cause. With the agreement of direction of your Cataract Surgeon then, it might be possible to briefly delay the need for Cataract Surgery with an eyeglass prescription change. However, no medication, exercise or optical device has been shown to prevent or cure Cataracts. The only way to restore the vision loss caused by a Cataract is to have Cataract Surgery with Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implantation.

The information that has been provided here is intended to give patients an understanding of how Cataracts can affect eyeglass prescriptions and temporarily delay the need for Cataract Surgery. It is possible that your individual experience might be different. None of the information provided here is meant to be a substitute for or replace your eye doctor's consultation nor does it replace the need for you to consult with your Cataract Surgeon about specific details of Cataract Surgery and Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implantation.

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