Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness throughout the world. Cataracts most frequently affect individuals over the age of 40, due to normal eye changes that occur. Cataracts are caused by the breakdown in normal proteins in the lens of the eye, which leads to the lens becoming cloudy. Most people over the age of 60 have some degree of clouding in the lens of the eye. Read on to learn more about symptoms to watch for, when to see an ophthalmologist and treatments for cataracts.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Vision changes are often the first sign that you may be developing cataracts. Changes to vision, which should prompt you to book an appointment with your ophthalmologist immediately include:
- Blurred vision
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Double vision
- Difficulty reading without bright light
- Seeing colors in muted or yellowed tones rather than bright colors
Risk Factors for Cataracts
Anyone may develop cataracts, and the condition may even be present from birth. But there are also some known risk factors for developing this condition. Risk factors for developing cataracts include:
- Family history of cataracts
- Underlying medical conditions, including diabetes
- Previous eye injury or eye surgery
- Prolonged sun exposure without wearing sunglasses that protect the eyes from UV rays
- Long term use of certain medications such as corticosteroids
Can You Prevent Cataracts?
Cataracts caused by aging generally develop gradually, over an extended period. In younger people, cataracts may develop suddenly, or as the result of unmanaged diabetes. Although there is no way to prevent the condition, there are smart steps to take care of your eyes that can reduce your likelihood of developing cataracts. These preventative measures include:
- Do not smoke, or stop if you do smoke
- Wear sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection
- If you wear glasses, get a lens that provides UV protection
- See your ophthalmologist regularly for exams and screenings
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Properly manage all health conditions
- Eat a diet rich in antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins
- Limit alcohol use
How are Cataracts Diagnosed?
Your ophthalmologist will perform a variety of tests, and examine your eyes to look for signs of cataracts. Tests to diagnose, or to rule out cataracts include:
- Retinal exam, using special drops to dilate your pupils
- Visual acuity exam, to confirm or rule out impaired vision
- Slit-lamp exam, to illuminate your cornea, iris, lens, and space between the iris and cornea
- Applanation tonometry exam to measure intraocular pressure
Treatments for Cataracts
Early treatment for cataracts can help to correct your vision. These treatments include changes to your prescription lens. In addition, you may improve your vision with lifestyle changes such as keeping rooms brighter, using magnifying lenses for reading, and wearing anti-glare sunglasses.
Unfortunately, cataracts are typically progressive conditions. This means they will likely worsen over time. If all conservative treatments to improve your vision have failed, your ophthalmologist may recommend cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial disc. Cataract surgery is an outpatient surgery, requiring no overnight stay in the hospital. The entire surgery often lasts less than 30 minutes. Cataract surgery may only be performed on one eye at a time, so if you require surgery on both eyes, the surgeries are typically scheduled a few weeks apart. Cataracts surgery offers patients an excellent prognosis with more than 98% of patients experiencing restored vision.
Cataract Surgery in Middlefield and Garrettsville, OH
If cataracts are making day-to-day tasks difficult, talk with your ophthalmologist about the potential benefits of cataract surgery. At Andrews Eye Care, our skilled ophthalmologists have years of experience in successfully treating cataracts in patients of all ages. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Garrettsville Office: 330-527-3937
Middlefield Office: 440-688-5225