Maybe it’s been a while since you created a “Back-to-School” agenda, but there’s never been a better time to get screened for cataracts. The world’s leading cause of blindness, cataracts affects 5.5 million people in the United States with 400,000 new cases each year. A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye. The clouding prevents light from reaching the retina and objects appear blurry. If left untreated, the blurriness worsens and can result in complete blindness.
If you notice changes in your vision like blurred vision, diminished night vision and the appearance of halos around objects you may be developing a cataract. You should make an appointment with your eye doctor to have a cataract screening. Before your exam, you can prepare by writing down your symptoms and any recent changes or stresses in your life. Also include a list of your current medications, vitamins and supplements including the doses of each. Finally, you should write down a list of questions for your doctor because it is easy to become distracted during the appointment and you only have a limited amount of time. If you make your list from most important to least important, you will be able to get most of the essential questions answered.
Your eye exam will include a few basic tests:
- Visual Acuity Test–You will be asked to read an eye chart to see if you have signs of visual impairment
- Slit-Lamp Examination–Your doctor will also use a slit lamp to view your cornea, iris, lens and the space between your iris and cornea to inspect for abnormalities
- Retinal Exam–Dilating drops will also be placed in your eyes so your doctor can examine your retina and your lens for signs of a cataract
- Tonometry—This test measures intraocular pressure and tests for glaucoma (Source: Mayo Clinic).
If you do have a cataract, your eye doctor will explain the steps for treatment. Even though cataracts account for 48 percent of all cases of blindness, it is a curable condition if treated immediately. Pay close attention to any changes in your vision and schedule an eye exam if you think that you may be developing a cataract. For more information, you can contact a physician near you.