Life’s experiences bring wisdom and forethought, two things we can certainly be thankful for (and factors many of us wish we’d ironed down at a younger age). This progress, however, can leave its mark in less preferable ways as well. Those of us over 60 may experience a haze of cloudiness impacting our vision. This is a result of cataracts.
By definition, a cataract is the clouding of an eye’s lens which results in impaired vision. This can be caused by a number of factors including diabetes, smoking, or a traumatic injury affecting the eyes. Age itself is also a common factor in the development of cataracts. Almost all senior assisted living facilities, nursing homes and caregiver facilities deal with this issue on a daily basis.
A QUICK LOOK AT CATARACTS
Before we discuss what those of us affected by cataracts can expect, here are a few important things to note:
An eye’s lens is the clear part that helps focus light on the retina. A cataract affects this process.
While they can affect one or both eyes, cataracts cannot spread from eye to eye.
Development of cataracts is typically a slow process, becoming more noticeable with time.
At first, you may experience double vision in one eye. This should clear up as the cataract develops.
Your vision may become blurry or seem dulled.
One of the most common effects of cataracts is a noticeable blurriness of vision. This is caused by a clumping of a small portion of the protein making up the lens, resulting in a ‘cloudy’ area in the eyes. Vision may become hazier as this slowly grows over the span of several years. Those benefiting from assisted living facilities or senior living centers may receive regular visits from an Ophthalmologist.
A once clear lens may become slightly browned, which is another common effect of cataracts. This can affect
your perception of colors and worsen over time. With advanced lens discoloration, blues and purples may become harder to pick out, often appearing blackish and indistinguishable from one another. After a few wears of your favorite black blouse, you may receive a compliment on how nice you look in navy blue. If nothing else, a developing cataract provides a great opportunity to laugh now and then.
Cataract surgery is very common and has a high success rate. Development of cataracts is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. By being proactive and visiting an eye doctor, you can reduce your risk of acquiring cataract’s most serious side effects. Surgery is the only method proven to counteract the effects of cataracts.
It is important to involve a family member in the decision-making process, particularly if surgery is being considered. They can provide a second opinion and ensure that you are understanding the large amount of information provided by the doctor. Being located in a skilled nursing facility with nurses specializing in elderly care can also aid family members in understanding the large amount of complicated information. The surgery procedure can be done in one day, in a hospital’s operation room, or an ambulatory surgery center. Typically, you will be awake and under sedation during the surgery and able to see within the day. The doctor will request follow up visits to ensure the process has been successful.
While the development of cataracts will require attention on your part, the effects of surgery and other recommendations from an eye doctor can greatly reduce the overall impact on your life. Maintain a positive attitude, take action and follow your doctor’s suggestions. With any luck, you’ll be able to continue living a healthy and happy life.