Did you know that more than 22 million Americans over the age of 40 are diagnosed with cataract disease? The risk of cataracts developing and worsening increases as you age, in fact over half of Americans over the age of 80 have this eye disease.
Though this ailment isn’t uncommon, caring for individuals with cataract disease can be incredibly challenging, especially without the proper resources. Learn more about this eye disease and the different options to make caring for cataracts easier.
What Is a Cataract?
Before delving into the definition of a cataract, it’s important to understand what the eye’s lens is and how it affects vision.
The lens lies beneath the eye’s cornea and assists in focusing light and images onto your retina. Once light and images pass through the transparent lens and reach the retina, they are transmitted into nerve signals and transported to the brain.
As individuals grow older, the proteins inside the lens painlessly clump together, clouding this typically clear lens. This clouding of the lens is called a cataract.
Types of Cataracts
Though most cases of cataracts are age-related, other types of cataracts do exist.
– Secondary Cataract: A cataract can occur after surgery or other health problems, like glaucoma, diabetes, and steroid abuse.
– Traumatic Cataract: Cataracts can occasionally develop days or even years after the eye experiences a traumatic injury.
– Congenital Cataract: Babies can be born with cataracts or may develop them at a young age. Though both eyes are typically affected with congenital cataracts, they are often so small that vision is not altered.
– Radiation Cataract: Cataracts have also been known to develop after extensive exposure to various types of ionizing radiation like that used in cancer therapy and X-rays.
The Causes of Cataracts
Though cataracts begin small, affecting only a small portion of the lens, time and age typically worsen this disease, causing vision impairment over time. Though this is a painless process, the deterioration of vision can be both frustrating and frightening.
Recently, researchers have discovered that lifestyle habits and certain behaviors can add to the risk of cataract disease, like:
– Frequent sun exposure without proper eye protection
– High blood sugar
– High blood pressure
– Steroid medications
– Hormone replacement therapy
– Excessive amounts of alcohol
Common Cataract Symptoms
No matter how well we care for our eyes, the development of cataracts is often inevitable. However, with regular eye exams and attention to our vision health, cataracts can be detected early with the possibility of treatment. If you notice any of the following eye symptoms, make an appointment with your VSP network doctor as soon as possible:
- Your vision appears cloudy, blurry, or dim.
- Doing activities at night becomes much more difficult.
- Your eye’s lens appears darker with a hint of yellow or brown.
- Eyes become extremely sensitive to light.
- The clouded lens diffracts light entering the eye causing halo-like rings to surround the light source.
- Eyesight worsens rapidly and your prescription changes frequently.
- The yellow or brownish clumps of protein in your lens give everything a yellowish tint.
- Clouding of your eye causes double vision or diplopia.
Schedule an Eye Exam to Diagnose Cataract Issues
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is recommended that you make an eye exam appointment with your eye doctor immediately. If cataracts are diagnosed, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist, or an eye specialist who performs cataract surgery. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for your eye exam:
- Write down a list of questions you want to ask your doctor. You might want to ask about surgery protocol, risks, timelines, and more.
- Make a list of all the medications you are taking. Be sure to include vitamins and supplements as well.
- Bring a family member or friend along to your appointment to take notes or keep track of questions.
- Make note of any life stressors or changes that could be impacting your health.
- Most importantly, be sure to write down all symptoms you’ve experienced and how long you’ve been experiencing them.
Visit VSP Individual Vision Plans
Care for your eyesight with comprehensive vision insurance coverage from VSP Individual Vision Plans. With annual plans starting as low as $13 per month, VSP Individual Vision Plans provide a Well Vision Exam® each year and access to a vast network of eye doctors you can trust. Enrollment is open year-round, and you can choose a future effective date that works with your schedule. Sign up online or learn more about eye insurance coverage today.
Your eyes are the window to your soul, so show them some love this Valentine’s Day by making sure they are healthy and looking great with VSP Vision Care. With VSP vision insurance you can save an average of up to $270 a year or more on eye exams, glasses and lens enhancements. So, let’s look at three ways to use this savings and coverage to show your eyes some love with VSP.
Get a WellVision Exam®
Make sure you know the overall health of your eyes and vision with a WellVision Exam. This comprehensive eye exam not only checks your vision but also looks for signs of serious health conditions, like glaucoma and high blood pressure. Your WellVision Exam will also include a review of the typical causes of changes in your vision, among other things. WellVision Exams are available from all eye doctors in VSP’s network, which is so extensive, there is an average of five network doctors within six miles of you right now. And all VSP network doctors accept new VSP vision insurance patients.
Protect Your Eyes with Lens Enhancements
Everyone loves a sunny day, but over time, the cumulative effect of UV radiation can permanently impact your eyes and vision. Upgrade your lenses to light-to-dark (photochromic) or UV protection lenses this Valentine’s Day to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. VSP vision insurance makes it easier than ever to upgrade your eyeglasses by offering 25% off lens enhancements when ordered through a VSP network doctor.
Contact Lenses Add Variety to Your Look
Let your eyes shine through this Valentine’s Day by using VSP vision insurance to add contact lenses to your look. Individual VSP plans provide a 15% savings on contact lens exams, and if you plan to get glasses and contacts at the same time, you can use your VSP vision insurance to get your glasses first, then apply the discount on your contact fitting and evaluation to maximize your savings.
As you can see, VSP vision insurance makes it easier than ever to keep your eyes healthy and looking great. With the largest doctor network, you’re likely to have a VSP network provider near you.
If you do not currently have VSP vision insurance, you can find a VSP Individual Vision Plan today. Enrollment is open year-round, and you can start using your VSP eye insurance plan the next business day. Show your eyes some love with VSP vision insurance this Valentine’s day and all year long.
In a study that surveyed 2,044 respondents, it as found that the ailment that frightens the majority of Americans the most is vision loss. Most individuals surveyed (87.5 percent) believed that good vision is vital to overall health, while 47.4 percent rated vision loss as the worst possible health outcome.
Respondents also ranked losing their vision as equal to, or worse than, losing their hearing, memory, speech, or even a limb. And when asked about various possible consequences of vision loss, quality of life ranked as the top concern.
Thankfully, vision loss is relatively rare in developed countries, though it’s important to be aware of common eye problems in order to seek effective treatment. The following five eye problems are reviewed in order from representing the least serious risk to the most serious risk for vision loss.
Conjunctivitis, more known as “pink eye”, is an infection that causes the swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid. General pink eye symptoms include increased tears, thick yellow discharge or crust after sleep, itchy eyes, blurry vision, increased sensitivity to light and redness.
Pink eye is commonly caused by bacterial or viral infections but may also be due to irritants, like pollutants or chemicals. Most cases are viral and do not require treatment. But bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic drops or ointments.
A cataract is the clouding of the lens inside of the eye. The lens is mostly made up of water and protein and is arranged in a way that keeps the lens clear and allows light to pass through. As we age, some of this protein can clump together and begin to cloud the lens.
Some people describe their cataract experience as looking through a foggy veil or a blurry window. However, other symptoms include declining vision, difficulty with glare, blurry sight and other visual changes. If cataracts are left untreated, over time they can begin to expand in size, making it difficult to see.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that develop from elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye, affecting the optic nerve. Although some types of glaucoma may cause immediate and significant changes in vision, this is not always the case. Vision loss due to glaucoma is often a gradual process as a person’s eyesight begins to narrow and worsen. Other symptoms of glaucoma include “halos” around lights, tunnel vision, eye pain, redness, headaches, blurriness, hazy or cloudy eyes, and loss of peripheral vision.
By the time vision is affected, the damage may be permanent, but it can be slowed or halted with certain treatments. This makes it imperative to diagnose glaucoma as early as possible in order to prevent further damage to the eye.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an incurable eye disorder characterized by the deterioration of the central area (the macula) of the retina deep within the eye where images are conveyed through the optic nerve to the brain. Of all eye problems, AMD is generally the most serious and poses the greatest risk.
There are two different kinds of AMD: wet and dry. Dry AMD is characterized by painless, gradual visual distortion. About 85% to 90% of AMD cases are of the “dry” (atrophic) type. Wet AMD, which is far less common, can cause rapid vision loss. While only 10-15% of AMD cases are of the “wet” (exudative) type, they account for 90% of serious vision loss.
Other than a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision, followed by the appearance of straight lines as distorted, no definite symptoms of AMD exist in its early stages. In its more advanced stages, however, vision loss is characterized by the loss of central vision (the object of focus is acutely blurred), while clarity of peripheral vision remains unaffected.
When it comes to these and other eye conditions, the one essential thing to remember is that early detection is key for effective treatment.
If you’re experiencing any issues with your eyes, don’t wait to schedule a checkup with an eye doctor. At OCLI Vision (formerly Eyecare 20/20), our team of experienced doctors specialize in everything from comprehensive eye exams and low vision assistance to glaucoma treatment and LASIK eye surgery. Contact us today to schedule an exam.
Did you know that ophthalmologists nationwide provide eye exams and care to seniors in need? The good new is “Yes they do!”
It’s a fact of life. When people reach their senior years, they are at high-risk for developing age-related eye diseases that can lead to blindness if not caught and treated in time. The good news is, people can take steps to protect themselves through a simple eye exam.
This holiday season, give the gift of sight by connecting an older loved one with an ophthalmologist in [state], who can provide eye exams often at no out-of-pocket cost through the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America® program. [Read more…]