By Lee Gilmore, OD
You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!
That may be true as statistics show that Baby Boomers are living longer and enjoying a higher quality of life than ever before. But it’s also a fact that we all have a strong chance of developing a cataract as you age.
Chances are that you or someone you love is living with a cataract. Here are some fast facts about cataracts that you may or may not be aware of:
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or changes light as it passes into the eye. Then a patient’s vision may become blurry or dim. We don’t know why a cataracts in the eye forms, but it’s usually a part of getting older. We also know that certain factors can make it worse, such as:
- Intense heat or being in the sun regularly
- Diseases like diabetes
- Inflamed eye
- Heredity from a family member
- Events before birth, such as German measles in the mother
- Long-term steroid use
- Eye injuries
- Eye diseases
Unfortunately, the only real treatment for cataracts is surgery. Talk with your eye doctor about whether surgery is right for you. Most eye doctors suggest considering cataract surgery only when it interferes with your normal daily activities, such as reading or driving at night. Because everyone is different, some people may not notice a large change in their eyesight living with cataracts. Others will find it a challenge to enjoy even simple tasks.
Obviously, you cannot prevent the natural process of getting older. But there are some preventive steps you can take to help you try to avoid developing a cataract:
- Protect your eyes from sun damage. Adults and children should wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap and sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV rays.Quit smoking.
- Reduce alcohol use.
- Follow your treatment plan if you have diabetes or other medical conditions that can increase your risk of cataracts.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Choose a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, which helps your eyes.
- The whole family should have regular eye exams to catch cataracts and other eye problems early.
Dr. Lee Gilmore is a Doctor of Optometry employed with LensCrafters. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (St. Louis) Optometry School and has been in practice since 2001. Dr. Gilmore is a licensed optometrist in the state of Minnesota and specializes in senior eye care as well as general optometry.