Nearly 20.5 million people in the United States age 40 and older are affected by cataracts. While you may not notice their development at first, they can progress to hinder your daily life. While many think a thin film is created over the eye to form cataracts, a more accurate definition would be a cloudiness that grows within the lens of the eye. This process blocks light from passing to the retina, creating a foggy, milky appearance. Other than age, cataract development can also be influenced by family history, certain medications like chemotherapy, eye disease, congenital defects, smoking, and eye injury.
There is no sudden change when cataracts form. Rather, they develop slowly over time. Look out for symptoms such as cloudy vision, halos around lights, light sensitivity, difficulty seeing at night, double vision in one eye, colors fading, or frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions. Regular visits and open discussion with a board certified ophthalmologist can thwart these symptoms from becoming more problematic.
Despite the seriousness of cataracts, according to a new AARP Health survey, most adults underestimate the impact of the condition; fewer than 1 in 3 retirement aged adults believed their ability to read or drive would be affected. Only 2% of the 1000, 50+ aged US adults surveyed acknowledged the need to remove cataracts and replace the lens when defining the condition, despite surgery being the only effective option for cataract relief.
The study comes from a new national cataract awareness campaign from Alcon and AARP to educate potential patients about cataracts and surgical eye treatment which most people assessed admitted to fearing. AARP the Magazine is the most widely read publication among adults ages 50+. Because of this, the publication has developed and implemented digital tools like cataractsurgery.com and myalcon.com to help educate members of their cataract treatment and management options. Dr. William Segal and Dr. Marc Lay want to further AARP’s mission by using Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons’ blog and social media profiles to continue to educate their patient base about cataracts and maintaining vision with age.
During outpatient cataract surgery, Dr. Segal makes a small incision to remove the damaged lens and inserts an artificial plastic, acrylic, or silicone intraocular lens (IOL). With a sutureless technique or tiny stitches, the wound is closed. After surgery, patients will receive medicated eye drops for rapid healing. Within a day, cataract surgery patients generally see improvement in vision. Within a month, optimal results are typically achieved.
Don’t be afraid to ask your ophthalmologist any questions addressing concerns about your cataracts, including their stage of progression, types of intraocular lens implants, the surgical process, and avoiding complications.
Remember that education is the best route for prevention and making well-informed decisions on the right choice for you. To learn more about solutions for various eye issues, visit the Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons’ website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.