What is Calcium and What Does it Do? Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, is best known for its important role in bone health and protection from osteoporosis. However, in addition to its key role in imparting strength to bones and teeth, calcium plays a critical role … Read More
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that prevents a clear image from forming on the retina, blurring vision. Most are related to aging. They are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other. Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are other types:
• Secondary cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma. They also can develop in people who have other health problems, such as diabetes. Cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.
• Traumatic cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.
• Congenital cataracts sometimes appear in newborn babies or are developed in childhood, often in both eyes. These may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.
• Radiation cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.
The eye’s lens is made of mostly water and protein, which is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it. But as people age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract. Over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.
Researchers suspect that there are several causes, such as smoking and diabetes. Or, it may be that the protein in the lens just changes from the wear and tear it takes over the years.
The most common symptoms are:
• Cloudy or blurry vision.
• Colors seem faded.
• Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
• Poor night vision.
• Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
• Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
• These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with an eye care professional.
Cataract is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes:
• Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
• Dilated eye exam. Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
• Tonometry. An instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test.
Early symptoms may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. Sometimes a cataract should be removed even if it does not cause problems with vision. For example, a cataract should be removed if it prevents examination or treatment of another eye problem, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
You have probably heard how dangerous excessively high triglyceride and cholesterol levels can be; they are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Recent research provides yet another reason why reducing triglycerides and cholesterol levels that are too high should be one of your … Read More
Thanks to the landmark Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS and AREDS2), we know that high-dose vitamins for eyesight supplements containing vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, zinc, and the antioxidant beta-carotene helped slow disease progression in people who were at risk for developing advanced age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. We also … Read More
If you’re blessed with the gift of perfect or near-perfect eyesight, it can be quite jarring when you first experience a significant period of blurred vision. You’re not sure whether it’s a temporary occurrence or a sign that you might be losing your eyesight. Blurred vision refers to a lack … Read More
Do you keep losing your keys, forgetting where you parked your car, or drawing a blank on names of people you just met? Maybe you can’t remember where you left your wallet more often than you’d care to admit. Such lapses of memory tend to get people of a certain … Read More
It’s that time of year again: The weather is getting cooler and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Pumpkins are a hallmark icon for autumn, but this fall staple offers more than just a festive decoration and flavor. Learn more about why the pumpkin health benefits that are good for … Read More
The number of Americans who smoke has fallen to 14.9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—a big drop from 1997, when 25 percent of Americans smoked. Sadly, however, smoking still kills about half a million Americans annually, and it isn’t just the obvious smoking diseases … Read More
As the leaves change color and the air turns crisp and cool, some of Mother Nature’s most flavorful and colorful fruits and vegetables start to reach their peak. And even though technological advances allow us access to fall foods year-round, nothing beats the texture and flavor of these gems when … Read More
The statistics might surprise you: 1 in 4 people aged 65 and older experience at least one fall each year. It’s thought that around 1 in 5 of these falls results in a serious injury, such as a fracture or head injury. Simple fall prevention tactics, however, can significantly reduce … Read More
Guess what! I’m a bad mother (well, at least some of the time). The other day I was playing in a pool with my kids. We had finally escaped the winter to a place where the warm sun shone, and our goosebumps dissolved into a distant memory. We were having … Read More