Vision is arguably one of the most essential of the five human senses, and when compromised, can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. As we age, the lens inside our eye that was once clear and transparent like glass becomes cloudy. This is known as a cataract, and is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.
We asked Susan Liang, MD, Opthalmologist at Tufts Medical Center, for more information on this frustrating condition that affects a large percentage of the population over the age of sixty-five.
Who is at risk for a cataract?
A cataract is not a disease, but is part of the natural aging process like the graying of our hair. Family history, diabetes, excessive sunlight exposure, eye injuries, surgery, inflammation and/or prolonged use of corticosteroid medication can increase the risk and speed of cataract formation. It is recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology that people over the age of sixty-five get an annual eye examination, as risk increases substantially thereafter.
What are symptoms of cataracts?
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurred vision
- Faded colors
- Glare, especially with oncoming headlights
- Difficulty with night vision and reading
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglasses
- Double vision in a single eye
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should have your eyes evaluated by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) as soon as possible.
What treatment options are available?
Cataract surgery is the only effective treatment when vision loss occurs. Surgery involves removal of a person’s natural discolored lens and replacing that with a new artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL).
Currently there are two surgical techniques to remove the cataract:
- Traditional Phacoemulsification
- Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (FLACS)
With new technology and techniques, the frequently performed day procedure is painless. Over 90% of patients undergoing cataract surgery have improved vision.
Early detection and treatment of cataracts can help prevent blindness. You can book an appointment with one of our highly skilled and experienced ophthalmologists at New England Eye Center.