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Q: What are the symptoms of cataracts?

Posted June 19, 2013 in Advice Column, Grimes

A: Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in people 55 and older, and Dr. Matthew Howie, therapeutic optometrist, encourages everyone to be aware of the symptoms of cataracts, for the sake of their vision or for someone they know,

“A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye,” Dr. Howie explained. “They tend to ‘grow’ gradually, so changes in vision may not be noticeable at first.” Symptoms of cataracts may include “cloudy” vision, sensitivity to bright sunlight, “halos” that appear around headlights at night and colors that appear faded.

The most common cataracts are age-related, according to Dr. Howie.

“By age 80, almost half the population either has a cataract or has had a cataract surgically removed,” he said.

Cataract surgery is the most common form of surgery in the United States, with more than 1.5 million procedures every year, Dr. Howie  said. But surgery is not the first option for anyone with a cataract.

“We can manage some of the symptoms of cataracts in the early stages with sunglasses or eyeglasses with anti-reflective lenses,” Dr. Howie said. “But when the cataract interferes with daily activities such as reading or driving, it’s time to consider surgery.”

“As with any eye disease, early detection and treatment are the keys to successful management of cataracts,” Dr. Howie said. And the first step is a comprehensive eye examination annually.

Information provided by Dr. Matthew Howie, O.D., Total Family Eye Care, 1451 S.E. Third St., Suite 400, Grimes, 986-1234.

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