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Senior Vision Health: Understanding Cataracts And Their Symptoms

April 27, 2012

Cataracts Prevention & Senior Eye Care

Growing older can be a wonderful experience that many seniors often look forward to. Being able to watch your children grow up, get married and have children of their own, being able to retire from many years of faithful work and take a long-awaited vacation you have always dreamt about, enjoying a relaxing time in your life filled with hobbies, travelling and new adventures.

Because of all of the wonderful things that await you throughout your senior years, it is important that you take extra special care of certain aspects of your life now so that you can live life to the fullest in your future. For instance, planning ahead for your retirement, eating healthy and being active, and, of course, taking proper care of your vision.


vision health


There are many different vision problems that affect people over the age of 60―declining eyesight, age-related macular degeneration, and most significantly, cataracts. In fact, there are more people suffering from cataracts than macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma combined.

According to Prevent Blindness America, there are more cases of cataracts globally than there are of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy combined. Today, cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans aged 40 and older. As the U.S. population ages, more than 30.1 million Americans are projected to have cataracts by the year 2020.

To help you get a better idea of you can prevent this dangerous vision problem from affecting your senior years, we have put together some basic information on cataracts and how they impact your vision.

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. The lens is held inside a capsule, and is made of mostly protein fibers and water arranged precisely so as to permit light to pass through without interference. Over time, these protein fibers begin to break down and cluster together, clouding the lens. For many, the formation of cataracts is a natural part of the aging process, causing the eye’s natural lens to cloud and distort vision.

Most people won’t notice right away that they have cataracts. For some, it starts out as just somewhat blurry vision. For others, it may present for them in a way that makes the colors they see dimmer than they used to be, or for others, it makes the glare of the sun brighter. Because these changes can be subtle, cataracts are not always so simple to predict.

What Causes Cataracts?

Unfortunately, no one knows for sure what causes cataracts. However, it is theorized that excessive sunlight, smoking and unhealthy eating habits can be a contributing factor to their cause. In some situations, certain people are able to decrease their risk of developing the disease. For instance, people with diabetes may decrease their risk of developing cataracts by tightly controlling their blood sugar levels.

Some people have a family history of cataracts which can be a great way to predict whether or not you’ll have them. Ask if your parents or grandparents have suffered from cataracts. However, no matter what your situation, as you age, you are at a greater risk of developing cataracts.

How Do You Treat Cataracts?

Cataracts are easily treatable through today’s advanced technology. During a cataract surgery procedure, a surgeon will remove the clouded lens of the affect eye, then replace it with a new intraocular lens (IOL).  Doing this requires a small incision at the edge of the cornea. The surgeon inserts a small ultrasonic probe that breaks up the clouded lens into a bunch of tiny parts, which are then suctioned out of the eye. From there, an intraocular lens is inserted to replace the cataract. This is then perfectly aligned by the surgeon resulting in the return of vision. Stitches are usually not needed for this surgery.

The goal of cataract surgery is to improve one’s best-corrected vision.  Many patients still need to wear glasses for both distance and close following cataract surgery.  Refractive cataract surgery now allows patients to see well without glasses following surgery.  Premium IOLs, often combined with LASIK surgery, can treat preexisting astigmatism and allow patients to see both near and far without glasses following cataract surgery.

For more information about the onset of cataracts, or to learn more about the many benefits that cataract surgery can have for seniors with this vision problem, be sure to contact OCLI today to see how we can help improve your senior years.


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