Have you ever looked through a dirty car windshield? You can’t see clearly! Cataracts mimic just that. Starting at about the age of 40 protein buildup in the lens occurs and eventually a
cataract is formed in one or both eyes. Light cannot pass through this film to provide a clear image to the brain, hence images can look “foggy”. The effect of cataracts can happen so gradually over time that the individual may not even notice the subtle vision changes. People have indicated to me that it is like looking through smoke or “cloudy water”.

According to Medical News Today, 1/3 of the population over 65 will have cataracts and 70% of those over the age of 75. There are two types of cataracts:

Age related cataracts – these occur as a consequence of aging.

Congenital cataracts – These are cataracts that are present from birth or may be diagnosed in children.

The National Institiutes of Health (NIH) has identified several triggers for cataracts:




Prolonged exposure to Ultraviolet sunlight

Symptoms of Cataracts:

Difficulty distinguishing similar colors- for example dark blue and black socks.

Colors may seem “faded”

“halos” and glare around lights especially if you are driving at night.

You can lower your risk for cataracts by following good “eye hygiene”

Schedule regular eye exams

Maintain a healthy weight (to reduce the risk of diabetes)

Wear sunglasses that block UV sunlight

Healthy diet

If you have been diagnosed with cataracts – it is a relatively simple procedure to correct, and according to the NIH, one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States. Your physician will remove the affected lens by the most common procedure called, phacoemulsification, “phaco” for short – the lens is dissolved, removed and replaced with an artificial introcular lens that is clear and requires no maintenance. There are different lenses available, the most common – the monocular intraocular lens, is for distant vision only. Other lenses such as restor**, tecnis** and toric** are multi focal ( i.e. for near and far vision) or can correct for astigmatism. Surgery usually takes about 30 minutes and many patients elect to stay awake!

If you have foggy vision or images aren’t as “sharp” as they used to be, schedule an appointment with your opthamologist. Please note that most insurance covers cataract surgery using only the monocular lens – other mutifocal lenses and lenses for astigmatism are generally NOT covered – check with your individual provider and consult with your doctor to determine which lens is best for you. Check out all of your options!

Unfortunately, cataracts is a major cause of vision deficiencies in Third World Countries because the surgery is not readily available – The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates as many as 18 million people in the world suffer from cataract blindness, however other estimates, sadly, place it closer to 25 million. Medical Organizations such as Sight Surgery International are spearheading the effort to bring volunteer surgeons to these remote areas to allow access for those desperately in need to lead a better quality of life.

Please watch Sharon’s Full Body and Fitness Workout on Comcast Channels 3, 15 and 22; Verizon Chanels 24, 26 and 28 – Mondays at 10a.m. and Tuesdays at 6:30p.m.

I also instruct Advanced Core and Balance for Seniors at the Malden Senior Center – call 781-397-7144 for details.

Remember to take care of yourself and…

Live Healthy!!

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