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How to Determine If Cataract Surgery Is Needed

April 14, 2015

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which eventually affects a person’s vision. Most commonly, cataracts are related to our age. In fact, more than 50% of the world’s population will develop a cataract by or after age 65. This condition can occur in either eye or both and it can create vision impairment. Cataracts are slow to develop and are not contagious, and therefore, will not spread to the other eye although the other eye may independently develop a cataract. There are four main types of cataracts:

• Secondary cataract-These form after you have had surgery for some other ailment such as glaucoma

• Traumatic cataract-Such cataracts may develop, following some kind of trauma to the eye, such as a blow to the eye or head injury

• Congenital cataracts- Less common than adult cataracts, babies can be born with these cataracts or they can develop during the early years of a child’s life.

• Radiation cataract – This type may develop following exposure to some type of radiation. This may be from prolonged exposure to the sun ( U.V. radiation)

• Age related cataracts- These are the most common type

In the early stages, the symptoms may be managed by a new eyeglass prescription, using brighter light to read or to perform tasks, using magnifiers and by using anti-glare sunglasses. Cataract symptoms may include

• Cloudy or blurred vision, colors seem pale

• Yellow to yellow brown tinting of vision in the affected eye

• Poor night vision

• Double or multiple image vision in the affected eye

• Glare, especially at night, with starring or halos around objects

These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is important to see your eye doctor who can advise you as to the best course of treatment. Cataracts can be diagnosed by visual acuity tests and a dilated eye exam to see the inside of the eye. This is particularly important for adult patients to rule out glaucoma.

There are a number of known risk factors associated with the development of cataracts. These include diseases such as Diabetes, smoking and ingesting alcohol regularly, and prolonged exposure to sunlight without the use of sunglasses that block U.V. rays. Also, if you have family members who have developed cataracts, you have a greater chance of having them. It is important for everyone to wear hats with wide brims and sunglasses when out in the sunlight. Nutrition is thought to play a role in the formation of cataracts so it is a good idea to eat a balanced diet that includes green leafy vegetables, fruits, and other foods high in anti-oxidants.

At age 60 or older, it is important to have a comprehensive eye exam every two years or sooner if you begin having problems with your vision. Your eye doctor can advise you if cataracts are present and when surgery is needed.

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