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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens. The lens is the opening where light passes through the eye. It is normally clear and focuses the light onto the retina (back of the eye). A cloudy lens makes it hard for light to pass through. This causes problems with correctly focusing what you see on the retina. Your vision may be cloudy, hazy, and blurred. You may develop a cataract in one or both eyes. It is not known exactly what causes a cataract.
What increases my risk of cataracts?
- Age 65 years or older
- A medical condition such as diabetes, low blood calcium, or high blood pressure
- A strong blow to the eye or your eyes being exposed to sunlight and x-rays
- An infection
- Steroid use, drinking too much alcohol, or smoking cigarettes
- Not enough vitamins, minerals, and protein from the foods you eat
What are the signs and symptoms of cataracts?
- Increasing loss of vision
- Cloudy, foggy, fuzzy, or hazy blurring of vision
- Problems driving at night or in bright sunlight
- Double vision
- Problem seeing shades of colors
How are cataracts diagnosed?
- A visual acuity test is used to check your vision, eye pressure, and eye movements.
- Ophthalmoscopy is used to see the back of your eyes. Eyedrops may be used to dilate your pupils.
- A slit-lamp test is used to look into your eye with a microscope with a strong light.
How are cataracts treated?
- Glasses or contact lenses may be able to correct your vision. You can also use a magnifying glass when you read.
- Surgery may be used to remove your cataract. An artificial lens will be put into your eye to replace the damaged lens.
How can I protect my eyes?
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sunlight and prevent eye discomfort. Make sure the sunglasses have UV protection.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You suddenly lose your eyesight.
- You feel a sudden, sharp pain in your eye.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- You have a fever.
- You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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