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Can't See? What You Need to Know About Cataracts

Eye With Cataract
Have you been experiencing a change in your vision? If your vision seems to be blurry, or if you are feeling more sensitive to light, it is time to visit an eye professional to see if you have cataracts. 

Surprisingly, cataracts are very common. This condition afflicts people of any age, though older individuals are most at risk of developing a cataract. In fact, by the age of 80, half of the population either has or has been treated for cataracts.

Simple dilation and testing can ensure your vision isn't being compromised by cataracts before this condition impacts your quality of life. If you are experiencing vision issues, learn some things that you should know about cataracts.

Risk Factors

Cataracts form when protein accumulates on the lens of the eye, creating blurriness and discoloration.

Smokers and diabetics may be most at risk of contracting cataracts, although anyone at any age could develop this condition. Diet could play a role in preventing the condition, as well as reducing the risk of vision complications associated with managing diabetes. 

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the signs of cataracts could be brushed off or blamed on aging; your doctor will be able to assess and diagnosis cataracts at your regular examination by dilating your eyes. Some symptoms that warrant report to your eye provider include:
  • Blurriness
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Difficulty driving
  • Double vision
  • Changes in eye prescription
  • Night blindness
The best way to rule out cataracts is with regular visits to your eye doctor every six months to a year for individuals over the age of 40.

Typical Treatment

Some typical treatment approaches for mild cataracts is to wear protective eyewear, use prescription eye drops, and see your eye doctor regularly. Changes in habits, like diet and smoking, could potentially have an impact on the progression of your cataracts.

Many people can live with cataracts without problems seeing, reading, watching TV, or driving. But when the condition interferes with regular activities, your eye doctor will likely recommend surgery.

Cataract Surgery

When your vision is impacting your everyday life, your doctor may recommend cataract surgery; this involves an outpatient procedure and local anesthetic. The surgeon will remove the clouded lens and replace it with a clear or corrective lens, using either an incision or a laser.

The results are immediate and quite dramatic, with most patients seeing clearly the following day, though you may have to wait a couple weeks between surgeries as only one eye at a time is treated.

Postoperative Care

Postoperative aftercare usually entails a visit to the surgeon the following day, limitations on daily activity, and routine exams with your regular eye doctor in the following months. You will be provided with a series of eye drops and a protective eye shield to prevent any potential injury or trauma to the eye. Cataracts do not grow back or redevelop, so there will be no recurrence once surgically treated.

Positive Prognosis

The prognosis for those having cataract surgery is very good. The procedure is considered quite routine, and should the patient experience any pain or decrease in vision, they should immediately contact their surgeon. It is also possible that having cataract surgery will eliminate the need for prescription glasses after - even if you have worn corrective lenses your entire life.

Concerned that you could have cataracts? Consult with Harry W. Chan, OD, in Fremont for an exam and more information regarding your risk for cataracts. When left untreated, cataracts can rob you of the things and activities that you most enjoy. If you are experiencing a decrease in your vision clarity and quality, don't delay; crisp, clear vision could be right around the corner for you.