What Happens with Cataracts?
Like many eye diseases and vision problems, cataracts can often show no real symptoms until vision has been greatly impaired. Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural lens becomes clouded, not letting in enough light and blurring your vision. Prevent Blindness America reports cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world and projects by 2020 that more than 30 million Americans will suffer from cataracts. While that number is certainly alarming, there is good news. Even though cataracts can lead to significant vision loss, this is reversible with cataract surgery. Also, changes in lifestyle, diet, and treatment of certain medical conditions can help to prevent early onset cataracts.
Can I Prevent Cataracts?
Some eye doctors would argue that cataracts are very hard to prevent, but health and nutrition studies strongly suggest that there are a few lifestyle factors that can play into your chances of getting cataracts. Suggestions for preventing early cataracts:
• Diet high in vitamin C & E: Spinach, kale, and other green, leafy vegetables contain a high level of vitamin E, which can help prevent cataracts. Sunflowers seeds, almonds, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids are also shown to reduce your risks.
• Protect your eyes: Wearing sunglasses and finding other ways to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays when outdoors can help prevent early cataracts.
• Healthy habits: Not smoking and limiting your alcohol intake can benefit your eye health. Treat high blood sugar and high blood pressure as your doctor prescribes. Talk to your doctor about the increased risk of cataracts if using steroid medications, hormone replacement therapy, or if you’re taking statins.
Hazy, blurry vision can be a sign of cataracts. The cataract itself, however, starts out small and affects your vision only a small amount at first. Most people diagnosed with cataracts often don’t know there is a problem until their vision becomes noticeably bad, making routine eye exams especially important.
Symptoms can range from difficulty small print reading, difficulty with night driving, glare and halo effects from oncoming headlights, gradual blurring and darkening of vision, and in more severe cases complete blindness.
How to Treat Cataracts?
Early cataract changes don’t mean you need surgery right away. Sometimes changes in eyeglass prescription, addition of anti-glare coating, and increased light during reading is all you may need to sharpen and improve your vision. However, when more and more symptoms increase and get worse then cataract surgery will be needed to restore your vision.
It’s normal to become anxious if your eye doctor suggests surgery. It’s important to note, however, that cataracts surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, according to Prevent Blindness America, with more than three million patients having the procedure.
Cataract surgery typically takes between 10-20 minutes to perform, but if you need to have cataracts in both eyes removed, you will undergo two separate procedures.
The majority of cataracts develop gradually over time as we get older, which means vision loss or impairment isn’t noticed right away. An annual eye exam is the best place to start and the ideal way to monitor changes in your eye health over time. If the time has come for cataract treatment, call us at Vision Institute Michigan today for a consolation on the best treatment options for you.