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Combating Cataracts

eye health

As an optometrist at Hebrew SeniorLife, many of the eye problems that I treat in my patients are age-related. It is not uncommon for eyes to weaken as we age. One of those ways in which age can impact eyesight is through the onset of cataracts. Cataracts are one of the most commonly diagnosed eye disorders among older adults. In fact, by age 75—about 70 percent of people will have had cataracts. 

What are cataracts?

A cataract occurs when the normally transparent lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque, limiting vision. Cataracts tend to develop slowly, making it difficult to detect a change. In some cases, a cataract doesn’t impair vision or affect daily life enough to warrant surgical intervention.

Cataracts are not painful but can impact a senior’s day-to-day activities and limit independence. It’s important to seek out a consultation with an ophthalmologist to discuss surgical options if you notice problems with vision that begin to interfere with your daily activities.

Cataract symptoms can include:

  • Cloudy, blurry, dimmed or yellowed vision
  • Increased difficulty seeing at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions
  • Double vision

Age is a common risk factor for cataracts but it’s not the only one. Those who smoke, excessively tan, have diabetes, a history of steroid use or a previous eye injury or surgical procedure on the eye are all at greater risk for developing cataracts—particularly as you age. A family history also increases cataract risk.

The most important step you can take to keep your eyes healthy and prolong independence is to see an eye specialist annually. Your ophthalmologist will be able to diagnose cataracts during a routine eye exam—allowing you to monitor them closely and take necessary medical steps if your vision degrades.

Other ways to prevent cataracts are:

  • Having regular medical check-ups with your primary care physician
  • Avoiding tanning booths and wear a hat or sunglasses when out in the sun
  • Quitting smoking

Receiving a cataract diagnosis does not necessarily mean you will need a surgical procedure right away. Changing your eyeglass prescription or using brighter light bulbs around the house can make surgical intervention unnecessary for months or even years.

If you are a candidate for surgery, a less-invasive surgical cataract procedure has made cataract surgery easy to undergo and recover from. The procedure, which takes about 10 minutes, often allows you to return to normal activities the very next day—with full healing of the eye in about a month.

Learn more about cataracts by clicking here.

Lynn Wittman, O.D.'s picture

About the Blogger


Dr. Lynn Wittman is an optometrist on the medical staff at Hebrew SeniorLife. She is available for vision related appointments in the outpatient practice at NBOC. Dr. Wittman is a graduate of the New England College of optometry. In addition to her HSL practice, Dr. Wittman works at Newton Eye in Wellesley. She is available to see NewBridge residents on Wednesday mornings.

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Just had an exam to day and told i had small cataract's in both eye's. I am 50, smoke, spent allot of time out in the sun, tanned and still do allot of out door stuff. Will wearing sunglasses and hat really prolong them from growing? Do the clip on shades to my glass's work for protection?
Did you know that there is a product called Cataract Terminator that eliminates cataracts simply by placing a solution of N-Acetyl-L-Carnosine on the lens? This amino acid chelates (binds) with the Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs) which we call cataracts. The combination is then expelled from the eye. This method of getting rid of cataracts was developed by the Helmholz Eye Research Institute in Moscow just a few years ago, but seems to be almost unknown in the west.
Very interesting, thanks for sharing, John!
I would like to find out more about this. Is it positive? Does it last? Can I get it in USA? Would I have to go to russia? If so, how long would I have to stay?
Do I need a Prescription for N-Acety-L-Carnosine?
Hi Patricia, We suggest discussing this with your primary care physician or ophthalmologist. An eye MD will be able to provide you with factual information about N-Acety-L-Carnosine, including whether or not a prescription is needed to obtain it if it is a course of treatment that they recommend. --Erica, Hebrew SeniorLife Social Media Team
john , I found some eye drops that sound like you describe on the internet called Can see eye drops and they claim to do what you talked about with your product. I am tempted to order some and try them.. I had a cataract beginning in one eye and it was made worse by an occlusion which turned out not needing treatment. However, there were some effects from it. Now the cataract is causing all the symptoms I have read about. I am seeing an optometrist who is keeping track of it.
I had cataracts surgery 3 to 4 years ago but have had a lot of dubree & floaters they say they cant do any thing else for me plus i'v seen two other eye doctors and they say my eyes are fine. my visions seems to be getting worse with foggieness.? what is there out there to help me I'm 79?. what is n-acetyl-l- carnosine on the lense
Hi Edward, Please check your email for a personal response from the Hebrew SeniorLife social media team. Thank you!
Hello, I'm interested in hearing more about N-Acetyl-L-Carnosine drops. (Almost sounds too good to be true.)
Hi Hilga and others, we've noticed there's much interest regarding the possibility of using N-Acetyl-L-Carnosine drops to treat cataracts. We'll ask our eye care specialist (and blogger) about this, and if it warrants a blog we'll add the topic to our canon in the future. We suggest you speak directly to your ophthalmologist to learn about all of their recommended treatments for cataracts and their specific advice for your unique health needs.
I must have missed your email from Hebrew seniorlife please resend again
Hi Edward, We sent an email the first email to you on January 20th. I just resent it, so it should be in your inbox again. Thanks!
Can prescription lenses be put in place at cataract surgery ?
Hi Ed, Please check your email for a personal response from the Hebrew SeniorLife social media team. Thank you!
An eye Dr. put dilation meds in my eyes for a regular checkup, but he took 2 hours to get to me. By then my eyes felt strange. He never put the antidote and sent me home. After going home, I had such an eye headache that I was incapacitated for 5 days laying in bed. I called the Dr. but his nurse said to call back if it doesn't go away in 5 days. I later learned that this is called a closed angle glaucoma, caused by dilation meds. In the months following, my eye sight got worse. From the trauma of the eye pressure, I now have a cataract. I'm interesting in learning more about the drops mentioned on this blog. Had I know that dilation meds could cause me to lose sight, I never would have chosen to use them.
Hi Mary, we are sorry to hear you've had such a negative experience with the pupil dilation drops. To be clear, the drops mentioned on this page were not mentioned in the blog post itself, which was written by an HSL eye care specialist, but rather in our comments section by other readers such as yourself. We don't at this time have a blog post from our experts that discusses these types of eye drops, but we are aware of the popularity of this topic and hope to add one in the future. In the meantime, we suggest reaching out to an ophthalmologist near where you live to discuss in person. They will be able to provide you with more insight regarding your eye health situation and advise accordingly. Thanks for reaching out.- Erica, Hebrew SeniorLife Social Media Team

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