June is National Cataracts Awareness Month and while most of us have heard of cataracts, we don’t necessarily have a true understanding of what it is and how it can be treated. Cataracts is the clouding of the lens of your eye and is only treatable with surgery.
Symptoms of Cataracts
- Blurred Vision
- Sensitivity to Light
- Seeing Halos Around Lights
- Poor Night Vision
- Muted Colors
The Baltimore Washington Eye Center has in depth articles regarding cataracts and its removal. It most often can be removed with fairly little pain and down time.
Cataracts Facts & Risk Factors
There are a number of factors that may increase your risk of getting cataracts. There are also a number of facts that need to be brought to the attention of the public about both the risk factors and the facts on seeing more clearly.
- Cataracts is common among those in their 50’s & 60’s
- If not treated, it can cause vision loss; however, it is still treatable even if vision is lost
- Diabetes increases your risk factor for cataracts
- 20 million plus Americans aged 40 and over have cataracts
- It does not destroy or hurt the eye itself, only the lens is affected
- Over half of Americans have cataracts by age 80
- Smoking increases your risk for cataracts
It is extremely important to have regular vision exams, especially as we age. Because our eyes change quite a bit as we age, regular exams will not only ensure that your vision is at its best but also help to determine if cataracts is present.
Some elderly patients will choose not to have surgery; however, surgery is the only treatment for cataracts and is considered extremely safe and effective. There is no rush for surgery as cataracts does not damage the eye itself; however, the symptoms can cause your quality of life to decline as loss of vision will be very
Click here to see a video explanation of typical surgery.
- Outpatient Surgery – Surgery is usually done as an outpatient surgery.
- Anesthesia – A local anesthesia is applied in order to numb the area around the eye. You will remain awake for surgery in most cases.
- Lens Removal – The first step of the surgery is to remove the cloudy lens from the eye.
- Lens Replacement – Your clouded lens is then replaced with an artificial lens that is clear.
- Risks – Cataracts surgery can increase your risk for detachment of the retina and there is a risk for infection or bleeding. However, these cases are not typical and your ophthalmologist will make sure your are healing properly.
- Second Surgery – If you have cataracts in both eyes your ophthalmologist will do the surgery one eye at at time so that you will be able to see during the healing process.
- Healing – You will have some discomfort after surgery, but it should be minimal. Healing time varies, but it generally takes about 8 weeks to heal after your surgery.
Once you have had the surgery or surgeries you need, you will want to reduce your risk factors for the cataracts to reoccur. Unfortunately there is no proven method to completely remove risk of a recurrence of cataracts. However, it is believed that some lifestyle changes and proactive movements could be helpful in deterring cataracts.
Photo by andrewrennie