As many of you are well aware, there are a number of changes that happen throughout our lives to our body. A number of these changes occur within the eye, whether it is a variation in the acuity of our sight, or simply a change in the ability of your eyes to focus, these changes are unavoidable. Optometrists and Ophthalmologists are well versed in these changes as they are the most common in the general populace and cause all of us frustration at some point. One of the most common changes is the development of Cataracts.
Cataracts develop for a number of reasons, the most common being age related. If you are over the age of 60 it is very likely that cataracts have started to develop, and you could already be experiencing their effects on your vision. Other risk factors include (but are not limited to): infection, injury, diabetes, exposure to ultraviolet light, medications, and trauma. Some babies can even be born with cataracts, so it is important to be informed and monitor the eye health of both the young and the young at heart 😉 (part of why it’s so important to stay up to date with your annual eye exam!).
So what exactly are cataracts you ask? While all the factors that contribute to the development of cataracts are unknown, the treatment options for cataracts are very successful! Cataracts develop when protein “deposits” form on the lens of your eye. The lens of your eye is composed of transparent flexible tissue (like a jellyfish!) that is located at the “back” of the eye (behind the iris, pupil, and cornea), that helps to focus light on your retina. These deposits cause cloudy or foggy vision, double vision, problems with glare (especially at night while driving), and can even change the way you see color! With such a gambit of symptoms, it is important that you seek professional help from your eye care provider to provide an accurate diagnosis.
The current treatment for cataracts is a very quick, painless, and effective outpatient procedure. During the procedure your eye will be dilated and cleaned, then the Ocular Surgeon will remove the lens in the affected eye, and replace it with a man-made lens (cool I know). This procedure has a very high success rate, and relatively few potential complications. After the surgery it is important to schedule follow up appointments with your eye care provider (we hope that’s us!) and to follow the instructions provided to you by the surgeon. There may be some limitations in what physical activities you can perform, such as heavy lifting and bending over, as a general rule anything that could increase the pressure in your eye and cause/aggravate inflammation. In most cases your eye will be fully healed within 8 weeks, but it is important that you have your eye health monitored regularly by a professional after that (and all the time if you ask me!).
While it is unlikely that you can avoid cataracts forever, there are a number of risk factors that you can mitigate with some simple habits. Wearing sunglasses and brimmed hats can help reduce the amount of ultraviolet light that damages your eye, and coincidentally can look super cool (especially if your sunglasses are from Eye-Q-Optometry). It is also important to protect your eyes from the ultra violet rays emitted by technological devices (tablets, phones, televisions etc.) by wearing glasses that have blue light reflecting coatings and not using your devices in the dark.
You can also help prevent cataracts by eating healthier, research has found that eating leafy green vegetables, and fruits rich with antioxidants can help improve overall eye health and delay cataracts. Quitting smoking can also reduce your risk. Lastly, of course, it is important to stay up to date with your eye care provider on all aspects of your eye health, especially as you get older. Close monitoring of your eye health (especially if you are diabetic) will almost always save you from vision loss due to medical eye conditions. If you have any other questions or are worried that you might be experiencing cataracts or any other vision difficulties don’t hesitate to contact us! Our contact information is listed at the end of this article, along with our sources. Thanks for reading! And as always have a great day!
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