Screening Exams for Cataracts with Glenn K. Davis, II, MD
With cataract awareness month in June, Glenn K. Davis, II, MD, reminds patients to make time to schedule an exam. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) also has a few important pieces of information about cataracts. Together, the importance of your eye health takes center stage with a closer look at cataract awareness.
A cataract can affect vision significantly. However, as with most health conditions, the earlier the change is found, the better. Visiting Dr. Davis for a cataract screening exam can allow him to catch cataract formation in its earlier stages. But do not let time itself get in the way of treating vision loss. Schedule your appointment now so you can rest easier.
Eye Changes with Cataract Development
When a cataract occurs, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Many describe it as trying to look through a foggy or dusty window. You may have seen photos depicting this effect, where objects have less color with a blurry or hazy appearance.
It can be this slightly blurry effect that brings you to visit the ophthalmologist. The cataract is a change in the eye that does not clear up on its own. Beyond blurry vision, some patients may see double, or become extra sensitive to light.
Age-Related Eye Changes Are Important to Check
It can become harder to see or drive at night, or you may find you need more light when you read. For many who develop cataracts, it may relate to age, when proteins in the eye lens begin to break down. This process can start to occur as early as age 40. By age 60 is when people usually experience cloudy lenses.
These types of changes may take place gradually, but soon impact your life. Frustration with the distorted vision can also build over time. Scheduling an eye exam can help cut that aggravation considerably.
Health Conditions and Additional Causes of Cataracts
While age can be a prime factor in developing a cataract, there are other reasons you may get cataracts, too. One way is having a relative—parents, sibling, or other family members—who have cataracts. Smoking is another risk factor, as is having a previous eye injury or surgery.
Medical conditions like diabetes can be a contributing cause of cataracts. Using certain corticosteroid medications might also cause cataracts to form earlier. Another risk that can impact many people is sun exposure without wearing UV-protective sunglasses. Overall, there is no timetable to predict how quickly anyone might develop a cataract.
Good News About Cataract Awareness and Treatment
Years ago, many people, especially the elderly, had fewer options in treating cataracts. Today’s medical advancements provide for greater care and treatment of cataracts, which is good news. Patients may expect an ophthalmologist to dilate the pupil as part of the exam. The doctor will also use a slit lamp to examine the lens, cornea, and iris, at the front of the eye.
Another part of the exam occurs while the eye is dilated. The doctor examines the back of the eye, checking the retina, optic nerve, and any signs of cataract or glaucoma. Finally the doctor assesses the sharpness and clarity of the vision in each eye.
There is still more ‘good news’ related to cataract diagnosis. For those experiencing less troublesome symptoms, it is not necessary to remove the cataract. Often, an updated prescription for corrective lenses can help patients see better, which is a relief.
For those who do have cataract symptoms that affect their daily life greatly, cataract surgery is an effective remedy. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract, so a patient must make an informed decision. Before making this choice, speak with Dr. Davis about what to expect.
Treatment by Removing the Cataract with Surgery
What takes place during cataract surgery? The surgeon removes the eye’s cloudy natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. The doctor can discuss these intraocular lens (IOL) with you and tell you how they function.
While removing the cloudy lens does improve vision, patients who have had surgery may go on to develop hazy vision again in later years. This can occur when the capsule holding the lens itself becomes cloudy. Using a procedure called a capsulotomy, the ophthalmologist opens the cloudy capsule to restore vision.
Cataract Awareness: Making the Choice for Cataract Surgery
The comfort level of each patient is an important part of choosing to have surgery to remove a cataract. Likewise, each patient’s situation is unique to them, so patients need to fully understand the risks and benefits. When speaking with Dr. Davis about cataract surgery, you may expect to discuss:
- A description of what to expect about the surgery itself.
- Preparation for the surgery and recovery afterward.
- Benefits and complications that may arise with cataract surgery.
- The cost of having cataract surgery.
- Additional health-related questions you may have.
As stated earlier, a patient may have other health concerns, such has high blood pressure or diabetes. Take practical and supportive steps that the doctor will recommend. The doctor’s recommendations come after seeing what works best for many patients.
Encouraging Words for Cataract Awareness Month
Remember that Dr. Davis is here with offices in Pulaski and Galax to help patients concerned with eye health and vision loss. Having a thorough eye exam is the first step in the process of cataract awareness and discovery. Learning that a new prescription may be all you need to see better is an easy solution to vision problems.
And for those whose vision and daily lives are greatly affected by cataracts, effective surgery is available, too. Improve your quality of life today by scheduling an appointment. Discuss your concerns with Dr. Davis and learn if cataract surgery is right for you.