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Q: I’ve heard of cataracts, but what exactly are they?

Posted July 10, 2013 in Advice Column, West Des Moines

A: A cataract is a clouding of the lens on the inside of the eye, which is normally clear so that we can see through it. This clouding or yellowing of the lens causes a person’s vision to be obscured. This is a normal aging change in the eye, meaning almost everyone will develop cataracts at some point.

The initial effects of a cataract usually include slightly foggy vision and/or decreased vision in dim lighting or extremely bright light (glare). Temporary treatment measures may include changing eyeglass lenses more frequently, wearing sunglasses to reduce glare and using brighter lighting indoors. Once cataracts have advanced to the point that daily life is affected, surgery is the only permanent treatment.

Although the diagnosis can be scary, cataracts usually progress slowly, and technological advances have made the surgery a fairly safe, non-invasive, outpatient procedure. An added bonus is that many patients are less dependent on glasses after cataract surgery. It is important to have yearly eye appointments to monitor the health of your eyes, including cataracts and the many eye diseases we are able to diagnose during a comprehensive exam.

Information provided by Dr. Lisa Lansink, One Hour Optical 4100 University Ave., West Des Moines, 224-1317.

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