You have heard of cataracts, and maybe even been told you are starting to show early signs of them. So what exactly is a cataract and what do you need to know about them?

 

A cataract is a cloudy area in the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens is a tissue located behind the pupil that is responsible for focusing light on to the retina (back of the eye.) A cataract usually forms as you get older, as a cataract grows and clouds more of the lens you may find that performing normal tasks, such as reading and driving, become more difficult. Symptoms of cataracts can include:

 

  • Vision that is cloudy, blurry, foggy and filmy.
  • Sudden nearsightedness or sudden improvement in close-up vision
  • Changes in the way you see color, especially yellow.
  • Problems driving at night because oncoming headlights are distracting.
  • Double vision

 

What causes cataracts?

Cataracts occur when there is a buildup of protein in the lens which makes the lens cloudy. No one knows what causes the buildup of protein, although research indicates that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, diet, smoking, consume large amounts of alcohol and exposure to air pollution may be some the factors. The most common type of cataract occurs as we age. There are also cataracts that develop in babies (congenital cataracts), cataracts that occur as a result of disease (diabetes, for example0, taking certain medications or exposure to a toxic substance, and cataracts that form after an injury to the eye

 

How is it treated?

Cataracts are removed during surgery. Cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the U.S., and is considered one of the safest. Nearly 98% of all cataract surgeries are completed each year without serious complications. During cataract surgery, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a plastic lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL) that is meant to stay there forever. The IOLs implanted today usually provide very good vision. After cataract surgery is completed, you are likely to be less dependant on eyeglasses to see well. Cataract surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient operating room, so you don’t have to stay in the hospital. Surgeons usually don’t remove cataracts in both eyes at the same time. You will be scheduled for separate procedures. We can determine at the office if you will need a cataract consultation with a surgeon. We will follow you in the recovery with weekly visits until the eye is completely healed.

 

Is there a cure?

Cataract surgery cures this disorder by removing the cataract. However, experts are studying ways to prevent cataracts so that the surgery does not have to be performed in so many people. It is estimated that is the progression of cataracts could be delayed by 10 years; the number of procedures would decrease by nearly half.

 

What can you do?

1. Come in for yearly eye examinations so we can assess the formation of cataracts.

2. Contact us if you notice changes in distance or near vision, difficulty driving at night, or double vision

3. Protect your eyes from UV rays by always wearing sunglasses when you are outdoors, or wearing photochromic lenses that darken in the sunlight. Polycarbonate lenses have built-in UV, and are recommended for all children.

4. Eat large amounts of kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, yellow corn, persimmons, and tangerine, or take ocular vitamins recommended by our office.

5. If you smoke, quit smoking. Speak to your family physician about smoking cessation program.

6. Limit alcoholic intake to one or two dinks per day

7. Have cataract surgery when it is recommended

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