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See the World in a Whole New Light

 
Have you noticed lately that your vision is getting more blurry even with your glasses or contacts? Are colors seeming less vibrant or are you noticing halos appearing around lights, especially at night? You may be developing cataracts.
June is Cataract Awareness Month
Cataracts are characterized by a clouding of the lens, marked by the symptoms mentioned above and are very common in our aging population. By age 80, over 50 percent of all Americans either have a cataract or have had surgery to correct the problem. They are caused by the clumping of the protein in the lens, which causes the blurred and cloudy vision.
Risk factors
Age is the biggest risk factor with cataracts, but there are other risk factor, including:
• Certain diseases such as diabetes
• Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
• Smoking
• Excessive exposure to sunlight
• Family history of cataracts
• High blood pressure
• Obesity
• Previous eye surgery
To reduce your risk, it helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthful diet. Specifically, studies have shown that diets high in Vitamins C and E, lutein and zeaxanthan (found in leafy greens like spinach and kale), and Omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish like wild salmon and sardines and flax seeds) may help prevent cataracts. Other ways to reduce your risk include keeping your weight within a normal range, avoiding getting too much sun, drinking alcohol in moderation, and not smoking.
Treatment
Cataracts are highly treatable, so if you’re experiencing any of symptoms, you should see your ophthalmologist. He/she will conduct tests and determine if you have cataracts or any other eye conditions that may be causing your symptoms. If you do have a cataract, new eyeglasses or anti-glare sunglasses may help during the early stages of the disease. If symptoms continue to worsen, surgery is the only effective treatment.
Cataract surgery
While the idea of any surgery can by scary, about 3 million Americans get cataract every year, making it one of the most common surgeries performed. It is also highly effective, with about 90 percent of people who have cataract surgery reporting improved vision. Of course, there are risks, which you should discuss thoroughly with your doctor.
What to expect
During surgery, the lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, called on intraocular lens (IOL). It is a relatively painless procedure and generally lasts about one hour. Many people stay awake for the entire procedure. After surgery, you may experience some discomfort, which should disappear within a few days. Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with this. Your doctor may also recommend using eyedrops to reduce the risk of infection. Complete healing should be complete within eight weeks.
Cataracts are highly treatable, so if you think you have them or are at risk, see your ophthalmologist and start seeing the world more clearly.

Categories: Geriatric Care, Healthcare

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