You find yourself holding the morning paper closer to your face in order to read it. Driving home at night, you are constantly squinting to read signs and to avoid the glare of headlights from other cars. You can no longer follow the golf ball after you swing your club.

    Are any of these annoyances familiar? They may be early signs of cataracts, the leading cause of blindness throughout the world. And, if you are 65 or older, you are especially at risk for developing cataracts, and eventually needing cataract surgery.

    Because cataracts are slow to develop, many people don’t realize they have cataract symptoms until they are forced to see an eye specialist due to vision changes. For many, the first signs of a problem are: increasing difficulty with night vision, growing sensitivity to glare, a need to hold material closer in order to see it clearly, or vision that becomes increasingly blurry, hazy, or dim.

    While new eyeglasses or contacts won’t cure or slow cataracts, they may help improve distance vision, which is often significantly reduced due to cataracts. In addition to a new prescription, increasing light at home, and positioning light directly behind you may help reduce glare, especially when doing work or hobbies requiring close attention. Additionally, anti-reflective and anti-glare coatings on glasses and sunglasses will help reduce glare, as will glasses and sunglasses with wraparound protection to help shield your eyes. With sunglasses, be sure to look for dark lenses and the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) symbol, which indicates glasses that offer better protection against the sun’s harmful UVB rays. Be sure to also wear sunglasses during the winter as sun glare on snow can be even more intense than summer glare. A hat with a wide brim may also help to shield the eyes from glare, particularly from the sun.

    Two lifestyle changes that significantly aid in prevention of cataracts are to quit smoking and to consume large amounts of fruit and vegetables, in particular dark green veggies, which are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants vital eye health.

    Those most at risk for developing cataracts:

    • are over 65;
    • smoke;
    • use corticosteroid medications;
    • have suffered an eye injury;
    • are diabetic;
    • spend significant amounts of time in the sun or live in particularly sunny climates;
    • are obese;
    • are alcoholic; or
    • have family history of cataracts.

    Because cataracts result in a high incidence of blindness, it is important to recognize the warning signs early and to see your doctor for evaluation. Schedule an appointment with Silverstein Eye Centers right away if you notice:

    • blurry or dim vision;
    • unusual glare from bright lights;
    • double vision;
    • distorted images;
    • increasing nearsightedness; or
    • declining night vision.

    The old saying goes, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Silverstein Eye Centers wants to help you keep those windows open.

    Posted January 9, 2014 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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