This Month In Health
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    Are you over the age of 60 and notice your vision is more blurry than normal? Has reading small print or driving at night become more difficult in recent years? Don’t ignore the changes. Make an appointment with your optometrist. You may have cataracts. Read >>
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    If you’re like most women, undergoing regular health screenings probably isn’t on the list of most beloved activities. While health tests may never be your favorite things to do, it may be time to put them on your agenda. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Cloudy, Frosty, Foggy

This isn’t a weather forecast. It’s what happens to your vision with cataracts.

Are you over the age of 60 and notice your vision is more blurry than normal? Has reading small print or driving at night become more difficult in recent years? Don’t ignore the changes. Make an appointment with your optometrist. You may have cataracts.

What are cataracts, what causes them, and how are they treated? Keep reading to get a clear view of this cloudy condition.

Cloudy Lens

Behind the iris (the colored part of your eye) and your pupil (the black circle in your iris) lies the lens of your eye. Similar to a camera lens, the lens of your eye adjusts so you can focus on the world, whether things are at a distance or close at hand. Made mostly of water and protein, the protein in a healthy eye is evenly spread across the lens to keep the eye clear and transparent, allowing a clear view.

As you age, the protein may gather together in clumps, thus clouding your vision. This is a cataract. The larger the clump, the blurrier your vision becomes.

Vision Problems

Most cataracts develop slowly over the years. In the beginning stages you may not realize their existence. As they worsen, it becomes more difficult to read or drive in the dark. You may notice your eyeglasses or contacts aren’t as effective as usual.

The main symptom of cataracts is blurred or cloudy vision. You may also have sensitivity to bright lights or glares. Many people see halos of dim light radiating around lights, need brighter light to read, or no longer see colors as vividly as they once did. Some people start seeing double vision out of one eye.
Cataracts typically form in both eyes, but not at the same rate. Any change in vision warrants a visit to your eye doctor.

Blame Aging

Normal aging affects the health of your lens, and is the main cause of developing cataracts. Other common causes include injury to the eye, an inherited genetic disorder, and a prior eye surgery. Risk factors for cataracts include diabetes, long-term steroid use, prolonged exposure to sunlight, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and heavy drinking.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A comprehensive eye exam is used to diagnose cataracts. By dilating your pupil, your doctor is able to examine your lens and the rest of your eye. A new prescription or anti-glare sunglasses may be enough to correct your vision. But if cataracts continue to cause problems, cataract surgery may be necessary.

While surgery on your eye sounds scary, it has become a simple outpatient procedure that lasts less than an hour and has a very high success rate. One of the most common types of operations performed, cataract surgery can be performed with general or local anesthesia. During surgery, your cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a man-made lens. If both eyes have cataracts that require surgery, you’ll typically have each eye done separately four weeks apart.

More than 9 out of 10 people report improved vision following cataract correction surgery. Before opting for the procedure, talk with your surgeon about the pros, cons, and possible risks. As long as you refrain from dangerous activities, there’s no rush to have the surgery done, so take your time making your decision.

Prevention

Since doctors aren’t sure what causes cataracts, there’s not a proven way to prevent them from developing. The best advice available to ward them off is to get regular eye exams, quit smoking, eat a healthy diet that’s rich in antioxidants, wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, and manage chronic health conditions.