Many seniors think that new glasses and a stronger prescription is all they need to get back the vision of their youth. The fact is that cataracts may be the cause for the decline in vision. The condition is the leading cause of vision loss among adults 55 and older. In fact, more than half the people over age 65 have some degree of cataract development.
Moreover, a recent study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston indicates that seniors suffering from poor vision have shown evidence of a premature mental decline. The results of this study clearly bring to light the importance of routine eye care for older adults, who are at increased risk of eye conditions that cause severe visual impairment such as cataracts.
What are common symptoms of cataract?
- a painless blurring of vision
- light sensitivity
- poor night vision
- double vision in one eye
- needing a brighter light to read
- colors looking faded or yellow
How is cataract treated?
In the early stages, stronger lighting and eyeglasses may lessen vision problems caused by cataracts. At a certain point, however, surgery to remove the cataract may be needed to improve your vision and general lifestyle. Usually, a lens implant is placed at the time of surgery to replace the natural lens. Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States. More than 90% of the people who have cataract surgery regain useful vision. Your ophthalmologist will explain your alternatives, risks, and benefits at the appropriate time.
Am I at risk for cataract?
The most common type of cataract is related to aging. In an age-related cataract, the center of the lens gradually hardens and becomes cloudy. It may become so cloudy that your Eye M.D. cannot clearly see the details of the retina. At that point, you might experience difficulty identifying colors and seeing at a distance.
Other causes of cataract include:
- family history of cataracts
- medical problems, like diabetes
- injury to the eye
- medications, especially steroids
- long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight
- previous eye surgery
By performing a thorough eye exam, your ophthalmologist can detect the presence of a cataract. To learn more about cataract, visit www.eyecareamerica.org.
Free Eye Exams!
The Seniors EyeCare Program ensures that every senior has access to medical eye care and promotes annual, dilated eye exams. It raises awareness about age-related eye disease, including cataracts, provides free eye care educational materials and facilitates access to eye care—at no out-of-pocket cost.
The Seniors EyeCare Program is designed for people who:
· Are US citizens or legal residents
· Are age 65 and older
· Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
· Do not belong to an HMO or the VA
To determine if you, a family member or friend qualify for a referral through this program, call 800-222-EYES (3937) toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can also find out more at www.eyecareamerica.org
About Dr. David J. Palmer
David J. Palmer, MD is chairman of Eye Care America-Senior Eye Care Program committee. He received his medical school degree from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago. He completed his medical internship at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago; his residency at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, Chicago; and a glaucoma fellowship at Harvard's Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston. Dr. Palmer is a clinical assistant professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and has a private practice in Chicago and Glenview, IL.