Everyone wants to live life to its fullest. From traveling to exotic vacation destinations to watching classic movies with family and friends, the most precious moments bring the color to our lives.

But what if you can’t truly experience the world around you? If your vision is impaired, the vibrance is quite literally drained from life. Things become hazy and colors dull. Driving at night becomes an exercise in anxiety with glare and halos making navigating roads intimidating — and frankly, dangerous.

While these issues can often be chalked up to aging, they can be sending very clear signals about one’s condition ... and those signs could be pointing to cataracts.

Dr. Jack Johnson knows it’s something to take seriously. The general ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon feels that developing this condition can greatly impact one’s quality of life. But it doesn’t have to be something that upends daily activities. The latest technology has made treating cataracts much more effective and much easier than in years past.

Dr. Johnson enjoys sharing those options with patients at Coastal Eye Care, located at 312 Redfern Village on St. Simons Island. There, he works with the knowledgeable staff, including optometrist Dr. Carlton Hicks, to put patients’ lives back in focus. We sat down with Dr. Johnson to discuss the symptoms of cataracts and what treatment modalities are available for patients today. Read on to learn more:

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a progressive hardening and clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. As a cataract matures, it will subsequently worsen your vision. According to the National Eye Institute, over 60 percent of Americans will either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery by age 80. Approximately 4 million cataract surgeries are performed in the United States each year.

How will cataracts affect me?

Cataracts cause worsening vision over time, which will make it difficult to perform your everyday activities. This includes things such as reading, driving, and watching television. It affects both distance as well as near vision activities. Cataracts can also increase the risk of falls in older adults.

How are cataracts treated?

Once a cataract is found to affect vision, the definitive treatment is surgical. Cataract surgery is typically a same-day outpatient procedure done with mild sedation. With current technology and improved surgical technique, the procedure is typically about 10 to 15 minutes. The surgeon will remove the cataract and replace it with a new intraocular lens. The surgery can either be done manually or with laser assisted cataract surgery, a newer approach that improves the safety, efficiency, and predictability of the surgery. There will be a few postoperative visits with your eye doctor following the surgery to make sure the eye is healing and vision has improved. A series of drops are used for a few weeks to control inflammation and prevent infection.

What kind of vision can I expect following cataract surgery?

There are a few types of lenses on the market currently. Your visual outcome is dependent on the lens you choose. Keep in mind, this is based on an otherwise healthy eye with no other additional eye conditions.

A single vision lens can be calculated for either distance vision (you will need reading glasses) or reading vision (you will need distance glasses)

A toric lens is similar to a single vision lens but also corrects astigmatism.

An extended vision lens offers a continuous range of vision from distance vision to near vision. These lens try to reduce your need for glasses.

How do I know if I am a candidate for cataract surgery?

See your eye doctor! Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can diagnose a cataract and refer you to a cataract surgeon.

• To learn more about cataracts or which treatment options may be right for you, contact Coastal Eye Care. The practice may be reached at 912-638-8652. The website is ssicoastaleyecare.com.