Why is it that after we turn 40, we notice that we don’t see as clearly as before? While we mostly attribute that to “just being old”, there might be another reason why we need to have our doctor “look” into it, as it could be something more serious. Since June is Cataract Awareness Month, it is a good time to consider our how our vision is affected as we age, and what you need to know about cataracts.
Cataracts are clouding of the eye lenses and causes a decrease in vision. They are the most common cause of vision loss for people over 40, and also the most common cause of blindness in the world. There are more cases of cataracts than all other cases of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration combined. Older seniors seem to be affected more, but people with diabetes are significantly at risk for developing cataracts at an earlier age. Smoking and alcohol intake also increases the risk for developing one.
Cataracts also affect how we focus, as objects aren’t as clear as before, or we see more glare when driving at night. Colors look faded, and sometimes we see double vision or even multiple images in an affected eye. Cataracts need to be removed especially if your vision interferes with your daily activities such as watching TV, reading or driving.
While symptoms posed by early cataracts can be improved by wearing anti-glare sunglasses, using brighter light in reading or even getting higher-grade eyeglasses, the only effective treatment is surgery wherein a new artificial lens is implanted in your eye. Prognosis is usually excellent after cataract surgery, and most people report a marked improvement in their vision and quality of life.
Currently, there are no proven ways to prevent cataracts or even slow their progression. However, doctors have come up with strategies that may help you in the long run:
- Quit smoking and decrease your alcohol intake.
- Wear sunglasses to block ultraviolet light, which contributes to developing cataracts.
- Maintain a healthy weight by trying to reduce your calorie intake, and strive to increase the amount of time you exercise.
- Be compliant with your medications and manage other health issues, like diabetes, that increase your risk for cataracts.
- Try to change your diet and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, as these contain many antioxidants that help maintain good eye health.
- Make sure you take vitamins and minerals, since a recent large population study shows that it is associated with a decreased risk for cataracts.
Being proactive about good eye health is always important, and a regular visit to your doctor to have your eyes checked is a always a great idea. If you have questions or concerns about your eye health, contact us today. We will be happy to assist you.