Does bright light cause you vision problems? Do vision problems make it difficult to drive, do your job, or read? June is Cataract Awareness Month highlighting the eye condition that is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans have cataracts, and experts believe that number will grow to approximately 38.5 million by 2032. While this sounds alarming, cataracts are treatable with a simple surgery with a 95% success rate. Whether it’s a loss of clear vision, the gradual inability to discern the brightness of colors or recognize faces, or even the complete loss of sight, it’s important to be aware of this common ailment.
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or decreases the light passing through to the retina. The lens is located behind the pupil and the colored part of the eye (the iris) and is usually clear. With a cataract the lens gradually becomes milky white. While cataracts don’t typically harm the eye and don’t cause pain, redness, or tears, the impact and interference with normal life can be significant.
Are You at Risk?
Risk factors for cataracts are varied and include:
- Gender – 61% of people with cataracts are women, and 39% are men.
- Sun exposure.
- Inflammation in the eye.
- Family History.
- Long-term steroid use.
- Eye injuries.
- Eye diseases.
- Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity can increase both the risk of developing cataracts and how quickly they can worsen.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When glasses no longer clear your vision and cataracts impact your quality of life, most doctors recommend the only effective treatment: surgery. For most people, there is no rush to complete surgery, but an ongoing discussion with your doctor will help you decide when the benefits of surgery make the most sense for you.
Doctors remove the cataract affected during surgery and replace it with an artificial lens. The surgery is an outpatient procedure, usually 10-15 minutes long. Local anesthetic is used around the eye, and the patient stays awake. Patients may feel discomfort for a few days, and healing generally occurs within weeks.
Lifestyle Impact of Cataracts
As the lens clouds with a cataract, it impairs sight. Until you and your doctor have agreed that surgery is the best option to clear your vision, there are things you can do to help manage the symptoms and reduce the impact that impaired vision can have on your daily life.
- Make sure your eyeglasses or contact lenses are the most accurate prescription possible.
- Use a magnifying glass if you need additional help reading.
- Improve the lighting in your home with brighter lamps.
- When you go outside during the day, wear sunglasses or a broad-brimmed hat to reduce glare.
- Limit your night driving.
Support for Independence
Studies have shown that vision loss can directly impact the aging process and general physical and mental decline in older adults. But, targeted support while living with cataracts and the positive outcomes following surgery can improve a person’s physical, emotional, and mental health, their ability to drive, participation in community and home activities, and general life satisfaction.
It is important to develop a network of trusted people who can help with daily activities such as:
- Household chores like washing dishes, vacuuming, laundry, all of which can be difficult with vision impairment.
- Navigating the computer.
- Eye check-up reminders, up-to-date prescription glasses, and early detection of disease progression are important.
Having a trusted support team of family, friends, home health professionals, and a supportive doctor will not only allow you to maintain your independence but also enjoy a higher quality of life for longer.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.