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An Overview of Cataracts and How They Affect Seniors

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It’s not uncommon for people over 65 to develop age-related eye diseases like cataracts. However, there are a few measures seniors can take to prevent cataracts and treat them if they do happen to develop. Kingwood senior care experts discuss a few important things you and your elderly loved one should know about cataracts.What Is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens, the clear structure that focuses light on the retina. For objects to appear sharp, the lens must be clear. When a cataract forms over the eye, vision becomes blurry. Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes, and they can increase the risk of falling and depression and make it difficult to drive, read, and recognize faces.

Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing faded colors
  • Halos around headlights and lamps
  • Increased sensitivity to glares
  • Impaired night vision
  • Seeing multiple images

Anatomy

The lens primarily consists of protein and water. When an eye ages, the protein can clump together, covering up a portion of the lens. This deposit reduces the amount of light that reaches the retina. Over time, a cataract can grow, obscuring more of the lens and further reducing visual clarity. Gradually, the lens develops a yellow-brown color, adding a brownish tint to vision. Seniors with this lens discoloration may not be able to discern blue and purple hues.

Cataract Risk Factors

The most common risk factors for cataracts vary greatly and include:

  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Taking corticosteroid medication
  • Eye injuries
  • Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet sunlight
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol

Treatment

When a cataract interferes with a senior’s daily activities, surgery is often recommended. Physical removal of the cataract is the only proven treatment. Though a delicate operation, cataract removal is one of the safest surgeries performed on seniors, and there are often significant vision enhancements within a few days after surgery. If your loved one has other eye conditions, such as glaucoma, the recovery time may be longer.

Prevention

Though there are many things that cause cataracts, there are a few things your loved one can do to prevent them. When outdoors in bright sunlight, your loved one should wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat, and he or she should also eat foods with plenty of antioxidants. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology found high intake of lutein and zeaxanthin reduces the risk of cataracts by 18 percent. To gain this protective benefit, your loved one should consume more broccoli, corn, kale, pumpkin, spinach, and squash.

To learn more about cataracts and other eye diseases, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are dedicated to helping seniors maintain their health by preparing nutritious meals, providing transportation to medical appointments, and helping with a wide variety of other tasks. In addition to respite and live-in care, we also offer specialized post-stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s care Kingwood seniors and their families can count on. For more information and to schedule a free in-home consultation, call 832-412-1345 today.