Have you been noticing a change in your vision? Did you finally decide to see the eye doctor only to be diagnosed with cataracts? Cataracts tend to be more common in seniors, affecting approximately one third of those 65 and older in the UK, but that’s not to say that seniors are the only ones to get it. Getting the diagnosis can be scary, as you don’t know what the future holds and what it means for your vision. So, let’s break down the basics of what cataracts are, what it means to you and all the other important information.
What are Cataracts?
A good place to start is with a simple definition of what cataracts are. This can often dispel much of the fear, as then there isn’t a big unknown. Cataracts mean that the tissue in your eye is clouding over. It can be a small amount of clouding or a large amount. The more clouding there is, the harder it is to see. Cataracts can be progressive, which means even something manageable right now may not stay that way. It should also be noted that it can affect one or both eyes. As mentioned, it tends to be more common in seniors but that doesn’t mean younger people can’t get it.
What are the Signs of Cataract?
Unfortunately, most people end up waiting until the cataract is quite progressed before they get a diagnosis. This can make treatment a little more difficult. This is why it’s important to know the signs to watch for.
Common signs can include:
- Colours aren’t as bright as they once were – they can start to look muted
- You may notice a bright glare that wasn’t there before – this is especially common when driving (car headlights)
- Your vision is blurry
- Your eyes become more sensitive to light
- Night vision becomes very difficult
- You start to notice a halo forming around lights
- Double vision (usually in just one eye)
- You have to keep getting new eyeglass prescriptions, but they aren’t working
Ideally, you don’t want to wait and let these symptoms pile up. The sooner you see the doctor, the better.
How Does it Affect Your Daily Life?
In reading over the list of symptoms and signs, it starts to become clear how cataracts can affect your daily life. Whether you have it in one or both eyes, what may begin as a mild inconvenience can then progress, and suddenly a wide swath of your life is affected. For example, it can affect:
- Your ability to drive
- Your ability to work
- Your ability to do simple tasks and chores around the house
- Your ability to engage in things you enjoy like reading, watching TV, going for walks and so forth
- Your independence (in serious/severe cases)
The goal is not to let it get to this point, of course.
Did You Know There are Different Types?
One thing that people don’t often realise is that there are different types of cataracts. This is why it’s so important to see the doctor so you can be properly diagnosed.
The various types of cataracts are:
- Posterior Subcapsular
Each one is a bit different, as are the causes.
Can You Slow the Progression of Cataract?
Once you have been diagnosed, it’s only natural to ask if there’s anything you can do to slow down the progression. While there is no proven way to accomplish this, doctors do recommend a variety of tips that can end up helping.
Some of the things you can do include:
- Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits
- Stop smoking
- Cut back on alcohol
- Make sure any other medical conditions are well-managed/controlled
- Make regular eye doctor appointments
Cataract Surgery May Be Necessary
While the first step is usually to wear prescription glasses, if it gets to the point where they are no longer adequate, then surgery may be necessary. Don’t forget, this can be a progressive health issue, which means it gets worse over time. This can happen slowly, or quickly.
The Circle Health Group, which offers ophthalmology services such as cataracts surgery, goes into detail about what the procedure involves. During the process, the damaged lens will be replaced. This is one of the more common ophthalmology services, and typically you will be fully healed after a few weeks.
Just like with any surgery, you will need to consult first with the specialist to discuss whether or not you’re an ideal candidate, what the risks and benefits are, and what you can expect before, during and after the procedure.
As you digest your recent diagnosis of cataracts, it’s important to take this time to research, learn all you can and work with your doctor to come up with the best treatment and maintenance plan possible.
We’re very proud to bring you this feature in association with Circle Health Group. For more features, please pay a visit to our lifestyle page.