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How a Vegetable-Rich Diet Can Help Prevent Cataracts

A new study suggests that incorporating more carotenoids and vitamins into your diet can go a long way toward preventing age-related cataracts. (more…)

The Dos and Don’ts of Cataract Surgery Recovery

Recovering from cataract surgery is usually a painless, stress-free process. However, you need to be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations to achieve the best results.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans affected by cataracts, cataract surgery is a quick and easy procedure that can reverse vision loss and protect your eyesight going forward. In fact, 90% of people who have cataract surgery report excellent results after receiving the treatment, which can take less than ten minutes to complete.

While these results are encouraging, they depend on patients following their doctors’ recommendations during the recovery period. Just because the procedure is short and you can go home in a matter of hours doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in the clear once your eye care specialist says you can leave.

Instead, it’s important for patients who have just undergone cataract surgery to follow a set of do’s and don’ts that can affect the long-term outcome of their procedure. If you’re preparing for cataract surgery or you’re just curious what the recovery period looks like, take a look at the following recommendations.

Cataract Recovery Tips

Do: Take It Easy

Unsurprisingly, your eyes are going to be very sensitive following your cataract procedure. It’s important to relax during your recovery period. This means you should avoid heavy lifting that could put pressure on the eye, refrain from intensive physical activity like going to the gym, and rest in a comfortable position if you’re feeling tired or your eyes feel strained.

Don’t: Drive a Vehicle

Your eyes will take some time to adjust to the removal of a cataract, so it’s normal for your vision to be blurry after your procedure. After you wait for medication to wear off, you’ll need someone else to drive you home. You should also wait to operate a vehicle until your vision stabilizes. For most patients, this takes a few days, but it can take up to one or two weeks in some cases.

Do: Take Your Medication

Eye care specialists will likely recommend a series of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops for you to take as your recovery. Be sure to take these at the appropriate intervals so you don’t experience any complications. If you need help applying them, ask family, friends, or the staff at your doctor’s office for assistance.

Don’t: Disturb Your Eyes

Your eyes are going to be especially sensitive after cataract surgery, so you’ll need to be careful as you recover. This means that you should avoid rubbing your eyes, as it could disturb the natural recovery process. You should also steer clear of makeup until you get the all-clear from your doctor to begin using it again.

Do: Use an Eye Guard

Many eye care specialists give patients eye guards to wear after their procedure. Also known as protective shields, these devices safeguard your eye during the critical hours after your procedure. You can usually take these off later on during the day of the procedure, but your doctor will likely ask that you still wear them when you sleep or nap for several days afterward.

Don’t: Go Swimming

It’s critical that your eyes don’t become infected after cataract surgery. To that end, don’t go swimming or use hot tubs for several weeks as you recover. This includes public and private facilities. Your doctor will probably have specific guidance when it comes to bathing, so be sure to follow those recommendations.

Do: Check In with Your Doctor Regularly

Typically, patients meet with their doctor the day after their procedure so that he or she can ensure that everything is healing properly. After this, you should check in with your eye care specialist if you have any questions or if certain side effects such as blurry vision aren’t going away with time.

If you need cataract surgery or you’re just curious about the procedure, reach out to an eye care specialist today. By scheduling a consultation with ICON Eyecare, you can get the conversation with our team. We’d be happy to discuss cataract surgery with you, go over your eye care needs, and recommend a treatment plan as you assess your visual health.

Why Cataracts Can’t Come Back after Removal

Cataracts cannot grow back, but you’re experiencing cloudy vision after your cataract surgery, your eye care specialist can help.

Cataracts affect approximately 24 million Americans over the age of 40 and about half of all Americans over the age of 80. This means that a large portion of us will experience cataracts at some point in our lives and, most likely, undergo cataract surgery to restore our vision and enjoy active lifestyles unhindered by impaired eyesight.

While millions of patients have cataract surgery and report successful results, some patients note deteriorating vision despite undergoing the procedure. Naturally, this leads many Americans to wonder whether their surgeries were unsuccessful and if their cataracts have grown back.

Patients in this position should know that it is not possible for cataracts to grow back. However, it’s not uncommon for eyesight to eventually worsen after cataract surgery because of the nature of the procedure — even if it was a successful one. While this may cause you concern, it’s important to note that this aftereffect is relatively common and that a simple, painless procedure exists to reverse its effects.

Cataract Surgery

To understand why your vision may seem to deteriorate after cataract surgery, it helps to understand what causes cataracts in the first place and what cataract surgery accomplishes.

For starters, the lenses of the eye are enclosed in a clear membrane known as the lens capsule. As we age, that lens goes on producing new cells — cells that can cause your vision to become cloudy, leading to the formation of cataracts. If cataracts become threatening enough, you and your eye care specialist may decide that you should undergo cataract surgery.

During the procedure, a surgeon removes the area of the lens capsule that sits in front of the lens, allowing them to reach the cataract, remove it, and insert an intraocular lens (IOL). However, part of the lens capsule behind the eye lens is not removed, and the IOL is inserted in front of it.

Possible After-Effects

While most patients enjoy clear vision after their procedure, it’s not uncommon for some to experience additional cloudiness. This can occur if the portion of the lens capsule left intact during the surgery becomes cloudy, something that’s known as posterior capsular opacification (PCO). Some patients may know these as after-cataracts or secondary cataracts.

In fact, about 30% of patients experience PCO. While some patients report deteriorating vision soon after they undergo cataract surgery, it’s possible not to experience cloudy vision until years later.

Related Treatment Options

Thankfully, a simple, painless procedure exists that can reverse vision deterioration. This procedure, called a YAG laser capsulotomy, can be performed in your eye care specialist’s office.

The eyes are dilated and the doctor will focus a laser on the remaining portion of the lens capsule. This laser thus creates an opening so that light can enter the eye without having to pass through cloudy cells. YAG laser capsulotomies only take a few minutes and the results are permanent, meaning that you won’t experience vision deterioration after undergoing the procedure.

Available Resources

If you’ve undergone cataract surgery and you’re still having problems with your vision, you may be dealing with PCO. Consider reaching out to an eye care specialist to speak about what you’re experiencing so that you can determine whether a YAG capsulotomy is right for you.

Ready to make an appointment? Reach out to ICON Eyecare to schedule a consultation today. Our team of trained staff and experienced eye care specialists are ready to diagnose issues with your eyesight and prepared to recommend treatment plans for any eye care needs.

What We Know about Cataract Prevention – and What You Can Do Now

Senior Woman Looking Up - Isolated

Researchers suggest taking steps now to protect your vision in the future.

Cataracts are very common, affecting the vision of more than half of Americans over the age of 60. Over time, the proteins in the eye start to join together and cloud the lens. Frustrated patients often wonder if there’s anything they can do to prevent this condition from worsening, or from happening in the first place.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cataracts, researchers are discovering exciting possibilities for preventing cataracts. Studies are revealing the mechanisms behind cataract formation and providing further evidence for protective measures that patients can start today.

Take Your Vitamins

Healthy, balanced eating, with a range of fruits and vegetables, is always good advice. But now there may be another reason to eat your veggies. The results of some recent studies have suggested that vitamins C & E may be particularly important in preventing cataracts, especially when it is included in the diet, rather than as a supplement.

The Nutrition and Vision Project, a 10-year study, saw a decreased progression of both nuclear and cortical cataracts thanks to vitamin C in the diet. This antioxidant is thought to boost protection for the lens proteins as the eye is exposed to light and air over time. Typically eye fluid is high in vitamin C, and a dietary boost seems to help maintain those levels.

Other studies showed a weak but positive correlation between these vitamins and eye health. The Beaver Dam Study showed promising news for those who are at risk for cataracts, as vitamins C and E seemed to have some protective influence. For the overall group, however, there didn’t seem to be a difference. In the Longitudinal Study of Cataract, results showed that vitamin E users halved their risk of nuclear cataracts. Because this was an observational study, further research is needed.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking is known to be an unhealthy habit — it can lead to heart disease and cancer. But it can also contribute to the development of age-related cataracts. Some studies suggest that heavy smokers have three times the risk as nonsmokers. The exact mechanism of this is not known, but it may be related to the toxicity of tobacco smoke, as the free radicals and carbon monoxide may increase the oxidative stress in the eyes. Current smokers are at higher risk than those who used to smoke, and it doesn’t seem that there is a relationship between smoking and cortical cataracts specifically.

Wear Sunglasses

Consistently wearing sunglasses, and even a wide-brimmed hat, is key to protecting your eyes. You should especially use eye protection during the summer and at high altitudes, when UV light levels are higher. The best option is wraparound sunglasses that block light below 400 nm, particularly for those over 40 or 50. UV-protective contacts are also an option, but they don’t protect the area that isn’t covered by the contact.

Spending time in the sun without eye protection damages your eyes through oxidative stress. Although the eye itself doesn’t get much oxygen from the body, a study by the National Eye Institute suggests that UV light causes the oxidative reaction that damages the lens protein.

Make an Eye Appointment

One of the best ways to protect your eye health is scheduling regular checkups with your eye doctor. Patients over 40 are at greater risk, and should be vigilant with their eye care. The symptoms may be subtle at first, including cloudy vision and the appearance of halos and glare. If you are one of the millions of Americans at risk, schedule an appointment with the professionals at ICON Eyecare to better learn how you can protect your vision.

A Guide to the Ins and Outs of Cataract Surgery

Close-up of Old Man's eye. High Technologies in the future

If you’re living with cataracts, surgery can offer a safe, affordable way to get back to the activities you love.

Cataracts aren’t just an inconvenience — they can have a major impact on the quality of your life. Many people find that their cataracts prevent them from participating in the activities that they love. Sadly, there’s no known way to prevent cataracts, and the only way to regain clear vision once they’re present is to undergo cataract surgery.

Fortunately, cataract surgery is a relatively safe, affordable, and effective procedure and patients who undergo the procedure experience a huge quality of life increase. If you’re interested in cataract surgery, here’s what you need to know.

The Basics of Cataract Surgery

While a cataract does need to be “removed,” it’s not a growth on the eye. Rather, it’s the yellow- or brown-tinted cloudiness that often develops on your eye’s lens with age, caused by an abnormal arrangement of natural proteins already present in the eye. As these proteins begin to gather together, they create a clouded effect and interfere with your vision.

In cataract surgery, your surgeon will replace the clouded lens in your eye with a clear artificial lens. Like LASIK, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning that the patient will not have to stay overnight. The procedure is among the safest and most effective surgeries performed today; each year, over 3 million people undergo cataract surgery. It’s also covered under Medicare and most health insurance plans.

There are two types of cataract surgery: traditional and laser. The traditional method relies on blades or needles to create an incision in the eye, while the laser method uses a very small computer-controlled laser. At ICON Eyecare, we use the LenSx Cataract Laser to improve precision, the predictability of outcomes, and personalization.

If you choose to undergo cataract surgery, you can also choose between monofocal and multifocal lenses. A monofocal lens has a fixed focus for one distance, so either near focus, mid-distance focus, or distant focus. A multifocal lens allows you to see objects both near and far, which tends to be a better fit for patients with active lifestyles who participate in a variety of activities. Because cataract surgery is a one-time procedure, selecting the right lens ahead of time is critical.

Cataract Surgery Recovery

Typically, cataract surgery lasts only about 15 minutes, but plan to be at the surgical center for around two hours. That time will include dilation, administering preoperative medication, the surgery itself, and post-operative instructions and evaluation. You shouldn’t attempt to drive home after cataract surgery, so make sure to bring someone with you. You’ll have a follow-up checkup with your doctor the day after surgery, and he or she will confirm that you are safe to drive at that appointment.

In the first days or weeks after the procedure, you may experience some blurred vision and eye redness. You should avoid strenuous activity as well as any activity that could expose your eye to water, dust, or grime. People commonly find that they still need to wear reading glasses after cataract surgery, as the surgery cannot completely correct for presbyopia, another common age-related vision disorder.

If your optometrist has diagnosed you with a cataract, contact ICON Eyecare today to schedule your vision consultation. Our experienced eye care professionals can help you choose a vision solution that is right for you and get back to doing the activities you love.

8 Signs You Might Have Cataracts

 

Don’t let cataracts sneak up on you — look for these warning signs so you won’t be caught by surprise.

Have you ever tried to look through an icy car window or a frosted glass? That’s comparable to the experience of cataracts.

Cataracts, or yellowing and thickening of the eyes’ lenses, are the most common cause of impaired vision among older Americans. They can either affect either one eye or both and while they’re mostly associated with aging, you’re even more likely to get them if you smoke or suffer from diabetes. Wearing glasses can help for a while, but the only definitive treatment is a surgery to replace the lens.

Cataracts can develop slowly, and first, they’re barely noticeable. If you notice one or more of these eight signs, it might be time for an eye exam.

  1. You have difficulty driving at night

One of the first signs of cataracts is increased difficulty seeing at night, which can be especially dangerous if you’re behind the wheel of a car. Usually, when cataracts are in their early stages, bright light and sunshine can overcome the effects of the initial yellowing of the lens, making them less noticeable at first. However, when that help isn’t available at night, it will become more noticeable that cataracts are developing.

  1. Difficulty seeing distant objects

Even in their earliest stages, cataracts can decrease overall visual acuity. That means objects that were already hard to see — namely, faraway objects — will become even more difficult to discern. If you could’ve sworn you used to have an easier time reading street signs, that may be a sign that you’re at risk for cataracts.

  1. Blurry or dim vision

Vision dims for the same reason that seeing at night becomes difficult: the yellowing and thickening of the lens make it harder for light to get through, so objects appear less bright. The thickening of the lens also means that it’s not as flexible, which reduces the eye’s ability to focus and results in blurry vision.

  1. Increased sensitivity to light

As cataracts become more prominent, many patients who already exhibit light sensitivity find that bright lights cause even more discomfort than before. Finding yourself frequently squinting or shielding your eyes could be a sign of cataracts.

  1. Halos around light

Many patients begin to notice halos — sometimes colored, other times not — around light as their cataracts become more severe. This occurs because the hardening lenses cause light to bend in unusual and unpredictable ways.

  1. Brighter light needed to read the small print

This symptom is similar to the difficulty that some patients have seeing objects at a distance. As cataracts interfere with visual acuity, anything that was already hard to see will be affected first. Small print certainly falls into that category; people who are developing cataracts may find themselves flipping on lamps or reaching for reading glasses more often.

  1. Double vision

In order to focus light properly, the eye’s tiny ciliary muscle changes the shape of the lens. However, when cataracts harden the lens, the ciliary muscles have a tougher time manipulating the lens. Sometimes, this inability to focus causes double vision.

  1. Age (55+)

If you’re older than 55 and you have some of these symptoms, you’re much more likely to have cataracts. If you believe that you might have cataracts, you should talk to an eye care professional about your options; there’s no need to continue living with impaired vision, and addressing concerns early is always a smart course of action. Contact the experienced vision experts at ICON Eyecare today to make an appointment.  

 

Considering Cataract Surgery? Read Our Guide to Intraocular Lenses.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery removes the eye’s damaged natural lens, and replaces it with an artificial one. Selecting which lens is right for you requires a thorough understanding of the options.

Over three million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States, making it the most common eye surgery. But patients may not know that they have a choice when it comes to the intraocular lens (IOL) that replaces a cataracted lens. Today’s modern lenses can correct for many different eye problems while eliminating the need for contacts or glasses.

How IOLs Work

IOL’s are made of plastic and largely replicate the function of an organic lens. After the natural lens is removed, an incision is made in the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye. The IOL is then inserted through the center of the iris, taking the place of the damaged lens.

IOLs can be sorted into a few broad categories: monofocal, multifocal, and toric (appropriate for astigmatism). No more coke-bottle glasses – patients are now able to achieve full functional vision with reading glasses or even no glasses at all. The implantation procedure for each lens is the same, but each lens type provides specific advantages that patients should consider before going forward with surgery.

Monofocal IOLs

Monofocal lenses are the original replacement for cataracted lenses. They are almost always covered by insurance and remain the standard option for cataract surgery today.

Monofocals have a fixed focal distance. Patients can choose from near-focus, mid-focus or distant-focus lenses depending on their needs and can then supplement their vision with glasses or contacts. Patients that read a lot will tend to select near-focus lenses while a patient who drives frequently may prefer uncorrected vision for distance.

Multifocal IOLs

As the name suggests, multifocal IOLs allow patients to focus at multiple distances. The technology works much like bifocal glasses, with one half of the lens working for distance vision and the other for near vision. The brain naturally finds the correct focus depending on the task the person is performing.

In many cases, the multifocal lens will provide the convenience of reading things like menus, wristwatches, and cellphones without the need for eyeglasses.

As wonderful as multifocal lenses are, patients should know that multifocal lenses are more expensive than monofocal lenses and can sometimes result in haloing (which will lessen over time). Multifocal lenses are ideal for patients with healthy eyes, and may not work as well if you have moderate to severe astigmatism or cornea problems.

Toric Lenses

For patients with astigmatism, toric IOLs are ideal. Toric lenses have different powers in different areas of the lens to accommodate variations in corneal shape. The eye surgeon will determine the best power and orientation of the lens within the eye.

Toric lenses are proven to be incredibly effective at decreasing astigmatism. 98% of patients had 0.75 D or less residual astigmatism after surgery, allowing them to acceptably see without glasses.

Since the effectiveness of a toric lens is highly dependent on the skill of the surgeon implanting it, patients considering astigmatism correction should seek out a doctor with significant experience implanting toric IOLs.

The Next Step

If you’re considering cataract surgery, one of the most important decisions that you and your doctor will make is which intraocular lenses are best suited to your needs. But first, you’ll need to choose the right doctor.

The highly trained cataract specialists and eye care experts at ICON have the knowledge and experience to help patients make the right decisions when it comes to intraocular lenses. Schedule a consultation with one of our specialists today.

Coping with Cataracts: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Cataracts become increasingly common as you age. Here’s how you can manage them.

Chances are you’ve heard of cataracts — you might already be suffering from them — but do you really understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments?  This quick cataracts primer will help provide a solid baseline of knowledge so you’re better prepared to manage and/or treat the condition if and when it appears.

What is Cataracts?

Put simply, a cataract is a clouding of the eye, often with a yellowish or brownish tint. This cloudiness can result in a host of vision problems, including weakened vision, double vision, blurriness, and excessive glare.

The cataract itself is caused by an abnormal arrangement of natural proteins already present in the eye. Cataracts develop as these proteins begin to gather, gradually forming an increasingly large clump which can interfere with the patient’s vision.

Symptoms

Since cataracts tend to develop slowly over time, many patients are unaware of them until they’ve advanced significantly. In most cases, the earliest symptom is slightly blurred vision in one or both of the eyes. This can make it difficult to identify, as many patients may assume they’re just experiencing typical age-related vision degradation.

While many patients suffer from cataracts in both eyes, they sometimes emerge in one eye only. In other cases, patients may develop cataracts in both eyes, but experience more severe vision loss in one eye compared to the other. Importantly, cataracts cannot spread from one eye to the other — they develop independently from one another.

There are several different varieties of cataracts aside from the standard age-related variety, including congenital cataracts created by an inherited condition, secondary cataracts formed a result of other eye problems, and cataracts caused by trauma or exposure to radiation.

Patient Profile

Unlike some visual disorders, cataracts are fairly common. More prevalent than glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy combined, the National Eye Institute predicts that cataracts will affect more than 30 million Americans by 2020 and 50 million by 2050.

Your overall level of risk for developing cataracts will vary based on a variety of factors, including your age, race/ethnicity, gender, and genetic predisposition. For example, cataract risk increases substantially with each decade beginning around the age of 40. Moreover, by the age of 80, 70% of white Americans will develop cataracts, compared to 53% and 61% of black and Hispanic Americans, respectively.

Treatment and Prevention

While the direct cause of cataracts isn’t entirely clear, there are a number of measures that could be taken to help prevent them. Smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and excessive sun exposure all seem to increase the risk of developing cataracts. As a result, leading a healthy lifestyle and getting regular eye exams is definitely a good idea.

There are, however, numerous established treatments for cataracts. In many cases, they can be managed surgically by replacing the eye’s lens with a plastic counterpart. Indeed, cataract surgery is one of the country’s most popular procedures, namely due to its high success rate and levels of patient satisfaction.

If you’re concerned that you may be developing cataracts, it’s best to be proactive. Whether you’re experiencing a sudden, significant loss in vision or are simply noticing a slow but steady decline, schedule a consultation with a specialist to receive a diagnosis and, if necessary, a treatment plan. Cataracts may be common, but it’s relatively easy to treat — contact the experts at ICON Eyecare today to learn more.

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