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What causes cataracts and how can you address them?

By Judith Whitehead

Special to The News

With June upon us, we will spend more time out of doors enjoying the nice weather.

Some of us may begin to notice that our vision is not as sharp as it used to be. At times, there will be halos around street lights. What once was a bright day will seem more dull to us.

Cataracts could be the culprits.

As we age, the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It happens to all of us.

Some eyes age more quickly than others depending on diet, lifestyle and circumstances that happen during life. Some medications can accelerate the formation of cataracts, such as steroids used for medical conditions. Some people spend a lot of time outdoors with no UV protection in their specs while they enjoy gardening, water sports, fishing and more. UV sunlight exposure can accelerate the formation of cataracts. A previous trauma to the eye can cause a cataract to form prematurely.

At any age, a cataract can cause the lens to become very cloudy and may begin to interfere with work or daily life.

Luckily, a cataract is not life-threatening and sight can be easily restored with today's streamlined technology and expertise.

Removing a cataract, or lens of the eye, is no longer a huge ordeal. Vision is restored with an inert artificial lens that does not reject from the body and restores the vision almost instantly.

There are many types and styles of implant lenses to choose from; your surgeon will discuss them with you. This decision depends on insurance, cost and patient preference.

A person who does a lot of close-up work may prefer a lens geared toward that lifestyle. Careful measurements are made of the eye so the lens – which has prescription power in it – can restore vision to a person's satisfaction. There may be a need to wear reading and/or distance glasses to fine-tune vision. A lens must be placed to replace the natural lens or focusing will be most difficult to achieve.

Having cataract surgery is an in-and-and out procedure that takes a short time to perform, under light sedation. It is most often done at an ambulatory surgery center. Patients return home the same day. Most importantly, post-op drops to prevent inflammation and infection must be used for a short time. Special care also must be taken not to rub or damage the newly restored vision.

Cataract surgery is most often elective, unless trauma is involved. A person will know when it is time to restore their vision. It is still considered surgery, no matter how streamlined the procedure, and should not be taken lightly. There are risks with any surgery and should be gone over prior to the procedure.

When you are ready to have your surgery, make sure you choose a surgeon who has done many cataract procedures. Remember, you only get one set of eyes and eyesight is most precious.

Good luck with your vision restoration and enjoy the new view.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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