As we age, our eyes can develop cataracts, which is a very common condition in people over 60. At Hanna Eye Care in Jacksonville, Florida, our eye doctors, Dr. Hanna and Dr. Purdy, can diagnose cataracts and recommend treatment to prevent vision loss. If you need surgery, we will refer you to a trusted ophthalmologist in the area and provide you with pre- and post-operative care.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye, which can make it hard for light to pass through and causes vision problems. It happens when proteins in the eye break down and clump together over time. As time goes on, the cataract gets worse and more of your lens gets cloudy. While most cataracts develop due to aging, they can also develop because of an eye injury.
Risk factors for cataracts
Age is the greatest risk factor for cataracts. People aged 60 or older have a higher risk of developing cataracts. That’s why regular eye exams are even more important when you reach the age of 60, as your eye doctor can check for cataracts and monitor their progression.
Other risk factors include:
- A family history of cataracts
- Certain medical conditions like diabetes and glaucoma
- Previous eye injury or surgery
- Certain medications such as steroids
- Poor diet with nutritional deficiencies including a lack of antioxidants
- Prolonged exposure to UV rays without proper eye protection
Symptoms of cataracts
Cataracts usually develop slowly over time. Some of the signs to look out for include:
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Seeing halos around lights
- Reduced intensity of colors
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
People with cataracts may also have difficulty reading the small print on menus or other reading materials. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an eye exam to prevent any serious vision loss.
At Hanna Eye Care in Jacksonville, our eye doctors can diagnose cataracts and a range of other eye diseases during a comprehensive eye exam. We will perform a series of tests to assess your overall eye health, including a slit lamp exam which uses a low-power microscope to check for cataract formation and other signs of diseases. We may also measure the pressure within each eye and test your color vision and sensitivity to glare and light.
Treatment for cataracts
Cataracts may not always require immediate treatment, and your optometrist can assess the severity of your condition on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, monitoring cataracts over time or adjusting your eyeglass prescription may be enough to maintain good vision. But if your cataracts make everyday activities more difficult, surgery may be necessary to remove them.
Our eye doctors work closely with our patients to determine the best approach for their unique situation. If we decide surgery is necessary, we will refer you to a trusted ophthalmologist in the area.
During the procedure, your ophthalmologist will remove your existing lens and replace it with a new artificial intraocular lens (IOL). After the surgery, you should expect your vision to improve within a few days or weeks. We will schedule follow-up visits with you to check on your progress and ensure a smooth recovery.
Cataracts can impact anyone, but there are ways to minimize the risk of developing this common eye condition. Ensuring that you wear UV-protective sunglasses while outdoors, eating foods that are high in antioxidants, quitting smoking (if applicable), and engaging in regular exercise can all help. You can even lower your risk by managing preexisting conditions, such as diabetes. It’s also important to wear protective eyewear while playing sports or doing any other activities that could potentially cause eye injury.
The best form of prevention, however, is to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with a qualified optometrist. Schedule an appointment with our eye doctor in Jacksonville to learn more about managing your risk of developing cataracts and maintaining optimal eye health!