Cataracts, or a clouding of the lens of your eye by small deposits of protein have been plaguing mankind since the days of antiquity. In those early times, doctors would wait until the lens of the eye became completely opaque and rigid causing the patient to be nearly blind. They would then strike the eye with a blunt object to break and dislodge the cataract. The result for the cataract sufferer would be slightly restored, but completely unfocused vision. (Not to mention black eyes, broken bones and bloody noses!)
Thankfully, modern medicine now has safe, effective surgical procedures to offer that are usually completed in 30 minutes and done on an out-patient basis. The newest techniques combine removal of the clouded lens and placement of a new artificial lens into the eye, both achieved with one small incision. The success rate of modern cataract surgery is 98 percent, and with an implanted artificial lens there is no chance that the cataract will return.
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That’s not to say that everyone with a cataract needs surgery. Many cataracts are not troublesome and cause few symptoms. For these people and those that are in the early stages of cataract development, changing eyeglass prescriptions, wearing sunglasses outdoors to reduce glare and ensuring adequate lighting to read can greatly reduce symptoms and improve vision.
While cataracts are usually age-related, people in their 40s and 50s can develop them as well. Risk factors of cataracts include smoking, diabetes, eye injuries, radiation exposure and prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Here Are 6 Warning Signs of Cataracts to Look Out for:
1. Cloudy or blurry vision.
2. Colors seem faded.
3. Headlights, lamps or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may also appear around lights.
4. Poor night vision.
5. Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
6. Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
If you have any of these symptoms make an appointment with your ophthalmologist today. With a routine eye examination, he or she can easily diagnose cataract formation, and check for other eye conditions as well.
While cataracts will affect over half of the people in the U.S. during their senior years, you can take steps now to reduce the risk and severity of cataract formation.
- Consume a healthy diet of carotene-rich fruits and vegetables like dark leafy greens, carrots, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes. These foods contain nutrients and antioxidants to support healthy eyesight and help fight disease.
- Protect your eyes from glare and UV radiation by wearing sunglasses outdoors.
- Quit smoking and cut back on alcohol intake — both risk factors for cataract formation.
- Manage your other health conditions, such as diabetes and an underactive parathyroid gland, as these can lead to cataract formation.
- Keep your weight in the healthy range. Obesity has been linked to cataracts.
Finally, see your eye doctor regularly. The American Academy of Opthalmology suggests that all adults over 40 should get their eyes checked with follow-ups as needed, and adults over 65 should see their eye doctor every one to two years.