June is Cataract Awareness Month
Cataracts are the result of the normally clear lens in your eye becoming cloudy. They can vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable reduction in vision. Cataracts happen to almost everyone as they age, and are most often found in those over 60. If a child is born with a cataract, it is referred to as congenital.
Cataracts may develop slowly over many years or they may form rapidly in a matter of months. They develop without pain or redness. A full eye exam with an optometrist can determine if you have cataracts.
Symptoms of Cataracts
- Is your vision blurry or foggy?
- Do you have decreased night vision or see halos around lights?
- Do colours appear dull or muted?
- Do you feel as if there is a film covering your eye, but repeated blinking does not make it go away?
- Does sunlight or other light seem overly bright or glaring?
While no one presently knows how to prevent cataracts, you can slow their growth by wearing sunglasses that protect from UV rays and eat foods rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidant rich foods include:
- Small red beans
- Red berries like cranberries, strawberries and raspberries
- Apples - Red delicious, Granny Smith and Gala
- Dark green veggies like kale and broccoli
When the cataracts start to interfere with your daily activities and glasses cannot improve this vision, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataracts.
Your optometrist will co-manage the treatment of your cataract(s) pre- and post-surgery with the ophthalmologist.
Cataract surgery is a very safe and effective procedure to remove the cloudy crystalline lens from the eye and replace it with a clear implant. However, there are risks and limitations that should be discussed with an optometrist or ophthalmologist prior to undergoing the procedure.
During cataract surgery, the old cloudy lens is removed and an intraocular lens implant is inserted in your eye that serves as a new lens. Sometimes the lens implant can give you good enough distance vision that you may not need glasses. However, your near vision will still be blurred, so you will likely still require glasses to read. Your optometrist will prescribe new lenses for your glasses about four weeks after surgery to maximize your distance and near vision.