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CATARACTS

A cataract is a clouding of the lens within the eye. A clear lens in the eye focuses light. This lets the eye see images sharply. With age, the lens slowly becomes cloudy. The cloudy lens is a cataract. A cataract scatters light and makes it hard for the eye to focus. Cataracts often form in both eyes, but one lens may cloud faster than the other.

Causes of Cataracts

Cataracts often occur with normal aging. In some cases, cataracts can occur in infants or children and might be associated with some birth defects, or, are hereditary. Eye disease, previous eye surgery, chronic diseases such as diabetes or excessive use of steroid medications are also causes of the development of cataracts. And in the event of a severe eye injury, cataracts can develop several months or even years later and are known as traumatic cataracts.

The Aging of Your Lens

Your lens may cloud so slowly that you don’t notice any vision changes at first. But as the cataract gets worse, the eye has a harder time focusing. In early stages, glasses may help you see better. As the lens gets cloudier, your doctor may recommend surgery to restore your vision.

Cataract Symptoms

The two most common symptoms of cataracts are cloudy vision and blurred vision.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Faded colors
  • A halo effect around lights
  • Poor night vision
  • Sensitivity to glare and light
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions
  • Increased difficulty seeing at night or in low light
  • Double vision in one eye

Cataracts: Your Evaluation

An evaluation will help determine more about the vision problems you are having and whether cataracts are the cause. This evaluation includes a medical history, vision tests and an eye exam. The results will help to determine the best treatment options for you.

After an eye exam, you and your eye care professional will discuss treatment options. A new eyeglass or contact lens prescription may improve your vision for awhile. But surgery is the only way to remove a cataract and replace your cloudy lens. If your cataract isn’t keeping you from daily activities, you may want to wait to have it removed. Together you and your eye care professional will decide what is best for you.

Cataract surgery involves the removal of your eye’s cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens implant, called an intraocular lens, or IOL. The surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure and does not require an overnight hospital stay.

Discuss in detail with your ophthalmologist;

  • The surgical procedure
  • The preparation and recovery after surgery
  • The benefits and possible complications related to the surgery, and
  • The surgery costs

This will help you to make an informed decision about your cataract surgery.

What to Do

If you have cataracts, or want to decrease your risk of developing cataracts, you should adopt the following lifestyle changes:

  • Get an eye exam every year if you’re older than 65, every two years if you’re younger
  • Wear sunglasses that block a minimum of 99 percent UV light
  • Stop smoking
  • Use brighter lights for reading
  • Limit nighttime driving if night vision, halos or glare become a problem

What We Have Learned

  1. A cataract is the clouding of the lens within the eye.
    True or False
    The answer is True
  2. There are many options to remove cataracts other than surgery.
    True or False
    The answer is False
  3. Wearing sunglasses with more than 99 percent UV light protection can help decrease the risk of developing cataracts.
    True or False
    The answer is True

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