June is Cataracts Awareness Month. Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness and a condition that happens much more frequently with age. Over time, the lens of the eye begins to become cloudy. This will gradually change clear vision into blindness without the right eye care services and eye protection. Here is what you need to know about cataracts and how you can prevent or treat it properly!
There are many problems that can go wrong with your vision. Problems you want to avoid are blurry vision or losing vision partially or altogether. There are many diseases or chronic conditions of the eye that happen so slowly that the patient may not even realize they are losing their vision. By the time of noticeable vision loss, the condition has progressed. That is why eye exams every 2 years or more frequently are so important. Here are a few of the most common eye conditions and how many people in the United States are affected:
Cataracts affects at least 24.4 million Americans over 40. Poor nutrition can contribute to this condition. Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness and one that happens more frequently with age.
You have many different parts of your eyes that help make them work. A condition like macular degeneration will affect the macula tissue of your eye. Diabetic retinopathy will affect your eye’s blood vessels. For cataracts, the lens of your eye is affected. Cataracts is the clouding of your eye’s natural lens. The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil of the eye, which is the black circle and colored circle of your eye. The pupil will make that black circle larger or smaller to let light into the eye, where it will go through the lens and bounce off the other tissues in your eye. The light information is then interpreted in inner eye tissues and information is sent to your brain about what you are seeing.
In a person with cataracts, the lens of the eye will gradually start to become more and more cloudy. The clouding can happen so subtly over the years that it may go unnoticed until the vision loss becomes significant. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy piece of glass or viewing an impressionist painting. However, as cataracts worsen, you are likely to notice some or all of these problems:
For many patients, surgery is an option to remove the clouded lens areas that are already present. If you have cataracts, you want to do whatever possible to stop the cataracts from growing worse. Visit the eye doctor frequently for comprehensive eye exams and to keep tabs on how your cataracts are. Surgery is generally an option only if your cataracts are beginning to hinder your quality of life or your ability to perform everyday tasks such as reading or driving.
Cataracts won’t spread to other parts of your eyes, so surgical treatments can be done at any time after diagnosis. However, you do want to work with your eye doctor to stop the progression of cataracts, as they can grow worse with chronic conditions such as diabetes. As you manage your life with cataracts (both big and small), we may recommend that you get contacts or glasses to help with your vision. These are custom-made to fit your vision needs.
Some patients find that their diet will help slow down the progression of cataracts. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you avoid or reduce the presence of chronic conditions that make cataracts worse. Some omega-3s, vitamins and additional supplements may help make your eyes less susceptible to free radicals, inflammation and nerve damage that can make your vision worse. Always check your medications to make sure they don’t contribute to worsening vision or inflammation. Avoid steroid eye drops unless they are absolutely necessary for your eyes.
When symptoms of cataracts begin to appear, you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, stronger bifocals and greater light when reading. But when these remedies fail to provide enough benefit, it may be time for cataract surgery. When that time comes, our doctors refer to a group of qualified surgeons. After your procedure, you may continue your care with Peepers Optical in Denver, CO for all of your surgical post-op visits. Call Peeper’s Optical today at (303) 333-2800!