As we age, our bodies experience wear and tear, and that includes our eyes. Cataracts are a condition that often comes with old age. More than 25 million Americans are estimated to have cataracts. This refers to a clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.
You might have heard an older relative complain about grappling with cataracts, however they can affect other populations, too. For example, eye infections, use of medications (such as steroids), and injuries can be to blame. Prolonged exposure to UV rays, and certain diseases such as diabetes or metabolic disorders, have been identified as risk factors.
In addition to knowing these risk factors, you should be able to identify the common symptoms, such as:
- Blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, or the sense of a “film” over the eyes
- Poor night vision
- Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work
- Eyeglass prescriptions change often
- A visible milky or yellowish spot can be seen in the pupil
A proactive approach should enter the equation, too. A healthy lifestyle can decrease the risks of developing cataracts. Avoiding tobacco use, drinking moderately, controlling blood sugar levels, and consistently wearing UV-protecting sunglasses when outdoors can make a big difference.
Of course, a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and veggies is recommended. Try to incorporate dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens into your diet. Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can be a boost to overall eye health, too.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A cataract is detected through a comprehensive eye exam by your Midwest Eye Consultants doctor that includes several tests. If he or she identifies the symptoms of an early cataract, they may recommend new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is an effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
If you’re concerned that you may be at risk for cataracts, it’s always a good idea to stay on top of current concerns while preventing or diagnosing issues in the early stage. If you’re a senior citizen, early detection and treatment of conditions, like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration increases can help preserve your eyesight. Medicaid not only covers eye exams for senior citizens, but corrective lenses and interventions to improve your vision as you age.
Periodic eye examinations are a vital component of maintaining excellent overall health. An experienced optometrist can work with your medical team to accurately diagnose and treat a number of health conditions. With a preventive approach to care, you can enjoy excellent eye health and vision at any age. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today and enjoy peace of mind as you age.