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Cataract Awareness Month

Created on: Thursday, June 01, 2017

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and are the leading cause of blindness in the world.  Over 24 million Americans over 40 years of age are affected by cataracts.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that leads to decreased vision.  The lens is what focuses images onto the retina at the back of the eye.  As cataracts progress, they cause cloudy or blurry vision.  Lights may cause a glare; seem too dim or too bright depending on the type of cataract.  One may also see halos around lights, such as car headlights, or you may have frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription if you have cataracts.

Risk factors for developing cataracts include diabetes, UV from sunlight, tobacco use and alcohol consumption.  While 50 percent of those over age 80 have cataracts, studies have shown that the risk for cataract development can be reduced by taking steps in one’s younger years.

While it is possible to reduce your risk of developing cataracts, unfortunately it is not 100 percent preventable.  Many factors may contribute to cataracts including family history, medications and age.

Recent studies have concluded that daily consumption of large amounts of alcohol will also increase the likelihood of the development of cataracts.  Wearing sunglasses to reduce UV radiation and choosing to quit smoking may also reduce the risk of cataracts.

What is the treatment for cataracts?

Cataracts are quite prevalent and easy to treat.  Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries performed today.  The surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens or IOL.  Only a minor incision is needed to do this procedure and it is generally completed within 15 minutes in an outpatient surgery center.

Recovery time is now a fraction what it once was and you can do almost everything you do on a daily basis the following day.

Does my doctor check for cataracts?

To find out if you have cataracts, your eye doctor will want to ask about your general medical history and any specific eye history, including symptoms that you might have experienced. A test of your visual acuity and your peripheral vision, as well as a test for glaucoma will be performed.  In addition, your doctor will perform a microscopic exam of the front of the eye to assess whether you have a cataract or not.   After dilation, the doctor will examine your retina, the optic nerve and the macula.

After this exam, your eye doctor will determine whether you have cataracts, how much they interfere with your vision and if surgery would be helpful.

In conclusion

If you are experiencing any of the visual side effects or symptoms discussed above, please visit one of the doctors at the Eye Care Center for a thorough evaluation.  Only your eye doctor can determine what might be taking place.

 

 By: Dr. Brad Richter

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