Don’t Let Cataracts Keep You from Doing the Things You Love
Many people accept vision loss as a natural part of aging. But that’s not the case. The truth is, as you age, you’re at a higher risk for developing age-related eye conditions and diseases. The most common eye condition affecting older adults is cataracts. In fact, cataracts affect more than 24.4 million Americans age 40 and older. And by age 80, more than half of all Americans have cataracts. They can occur in either one or both eyes. And if left untreated, they can severely impact your quality of life.
As a person ages, the lenses on his or her eyes can become cloudy and less transparent, making everyday tasks much more difficult. For example, a recent patient – Connie Klingelhoffer – could no longer drive at night because the glare from oncoming headlights was blinding. And while light sensitivity was a problem for Connie, the rest of her world seemed much darker. She told me colors weren’t as vibrant and she needed much more light to accomplish everyday tasks. Other typical symptoms include cloudy, blurry and sometimes double vision.
For many, cataract surgery can reverse vision loss. It’s a very safe, effective and painless procedure that’s typically done as an outpatient. The surgery itself takes less than half an hour to perform.
Here’s how it works. The patient’s pupils are dilated and he or she is given anesthetic eye drops to numb the area. The patient is also given an IV sedative to help relax. Next, I make a tiny incision in the front of the eye. Then I insert a needle-thin probe to dissolve the cloudy lens. Called an ultrasound probe, it’s also used to suction out any remaining pieces. Once that is complete, I insert a new, clear lens. No stitches or eye patches are needed.
After surgery, patients need to use eye drops for a few weeks to prevent infections. And though not painful, eyes may feel like they have a foreign body, like sand, in them. There may also be some swelling for a couple days. For the most part, folks are ready to return to their normal activities in a few days.
Most of my patients say they wish they would have had their cataracts removed sooner. And Connie is no exception. She told me she feels like she’s now living in a brighter, more colorful world. And best of all, she can once again drive at night.
I encourage everyone age 50 and older to have an eye exam every two years. Early detection can help save your sight. I also recommend taking preventive measures now to help prevent future cataracts. These include:
- Stop smoking
- Wear sunglasses
- Eat fruits and vegetables every day
- If you have diabetes, keep blood sugar under control
If you’re experiencing a vision problem, don’t ignore it. Please make an appointment for an eye exam today. Call 812-557-2020.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Provided by: Ira Younger, M.D., Ophthalmologist
To learn more, contact Dr. Younger's office at 812-557-2020.