Category Archives: Cataracts

August is Cataract Awareness Month

This message is brought to you by the American Academy of Ophthalmology in conjunction with Envision Eye Care and your Michigan ophthalmologists…

Ophthalmologists Urge Seniors to Know the Facts about Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the leading causes of visual impairment in the United States, and as the aging population grows, the incidence of cataracts is expected to rise as well.  During Cataract Awareness Month this August, Envision Eye Care, the American Academy of Ophthalmology  and the Michigan Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, advise seniors and their caregivers to learn the important facts about risk factors, symptoms and treatment options for cataracts.

Delaying diagnosis and treatment of age-related cataracts can increase the risk of permanent blindness and can lead to physical danger such as injuries from falls or running into unseen objects, as well as psychological harm like depression and social isolation. Nearly 25 million Americans age 40 and older are impacted by cataracts, and more than half of Americans will develop cataracts by the time they are 80 years old[i]. To ensure seniors know the facts about cataracts, the Academy, Envision Eye Care and Michigan Ophthalmologists offer the following answers to common questions about the disease:

  • What are cataracts? Cataracts are caused by protein deposits creating cloudy areas in the lens that prevent light from passing clearly through the eye. Aging is the most common cause of cataracts, but they can also result from traumatic eye injury, taking certain medicines or can be congenital in children.
  • What are the symptoms?  Symptoms include dull, blurry vision, colors appearing less vibrant, and seeing halos around lights. This cataract simulator demonstrates how vision is affected by cataracts.
  • Who is at risk for cataracts? Cataracts are a normal part of aging; seniors age 65 and older should be sure to have regular eye exams to monitor for the development of cataracts. People with diabetes, a family history of cataracts and those who smoke tobacco are at an increased risk of developing cataracts. Other risk factors include extensive exposure to ultra violet (UV) light, serious eye injury and obesity.
  • How are cataracts diagnosed? A dilated eye exam from an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions – will determine if cataracts are developing. The Academy recommends seniors age 65 and older should schedule eye exams every one to two years.
  • How are cataracts treated? Cataracts are nearly always treatable with surgery, but it may not be necessary until performing daily activities becomes difficult.  If daily life isn’t disturbed, a change in eyeglass prescription may be all that is necessary.
  • When is surgery necessary? If completing everyday tasks is challenging, cataract surgery should be discussed with an ophthalmologist. Only individuals can determine when symptoms like glare, halos, blurriness, dimmed colors or other cataract-related problems make activities like driving and reading difficult or impossible.

Many seniors cope with cataracts – accepting vision loss as an inevitable part of the aging process rather than seeking medical treatment. Early detection and treatment from an ophthalmologist is essential in preserving vision and quality of life as we age. For people without regular access to eye care or for whom cost is a concern, EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, offers eye exams and care at no out-of-pocket cost to qualifying seniors age 65 and older through its corps of nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists across the U.S. To learn more about EyeCare America or to find out if you or a loved one qualifies for the program, visit www.eyecareamerica.org.

For more information about cataracts and other eye health information, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

If you are having difficulty, or are in need of an annual exam to determine whether you have cataracts or how they are progressing, please give our office a call at 989-799-2020 in Saginaw, or 989-872-4900 for the Cass City location.



[i] Prevent Blindness America, Vision Problems in the U.S. Report, June 2012. Accessed at http://www.visionproblemsus.org/.

 

Do I Have Cataracts?

What is a cataract?

Your vision isn’t what it used to be. You’re eyesight has worsened slowly, and even your glasses just aren’t doing the trick anymore. Maybe colors just aren’t bright and vibrant like in the past.  Maybe you have cataracts.

A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens in your eye. This cloudiness often turns your world into a brown tinted haziness that glasses can not correct. This is part of the natural aging process of your eyes, although other factors can cause cataracts as well. Nearly 50% of all Americans over the age of 80 have cataracts or have had cataract surgery.

Other causes of cataracts

Cataracts can occur for reasons other than aging. Sometimes children and teens can have cataracts. These are some other causes for cataracts:

  • Congenital cataracts – These are cataracts that occur in babies, either born with them, or develop early in their life. They are usually small, and may not be of any visual significance.  If they do affect vision, then the lens can be replaced.
  • Secondary cataracts – These are due to risk factors from other ocular diseases such as glaucoma, diabetes, retinal issues and surgery, as well as long term steroid use.
  • Radiation – UV radiation from prolonged sun exposure or tanning booths can cause cataracts.
  • Traumatic cataracts – Eye trauma can rarely causes cataracts to form and can occur many years after the initial injury. When children develop cataracts, this is often the case.  
  • Family history – Some families have a history of early cataracts. It is important to know your family health history when seeing your eye care professional. 

Symptoms

The following list are symptoms related to cataracts. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact Envision Eye Care, or your eye care professional for evaluation.

  • Cloudy or blurry vision.
  • Colors seem faded.
  • Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
  • Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
  • These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your doctor.

What next?

If you experience any of the above symptoms, or believe your vision is getting worse, uncorrected by glasses, see your eye doctor. You may elect to undergo surgery to replace the clouding lens, or if you are only minimally affected and they are not interfering with your daily activities, you may wish to wait until they worsen. Surgery is the only way to correct the problem of clouding due to cataracts.

If you decide to go ahead with surgery, the clouded lens is removed and an new lens is implanted in your eye. The doctor and his or her support staff will perform a number of tests prior to surgery to get measurements in order to choose the lens best suited for your eye. You also have various lens options. Mono-focal lenses are implanted to correct distance vision, but reading glasses will still be needed. Toric lenses correct for astigmatism  and if this option is chosen, glasses would only be needed for reading. Multi-focal lenses can correct for both near and far vision, and most patients that opt for this lens do not need glasses at all.  On occasion, a pair of over the counter readers may be needed if reading in very dim light, or for very close-up work.

You can discuss all of the options available to you when you see your eye care professional.

For more information visit our website at www.envisioneyemighigan.com.