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Can Optometrists Treat Cataracts? 

September 15 2022
Older couple on the couch

The eye is a delicate organ, and anything that damages it can lead to complications. One common complication (and perhaps the most common among seniors) is cataracts. 

The good news is your optometrist has a range of treatment options to choose from depending on the severity of your condition. In this post, a Closter, NJ optometrist talks about cataracts, what causes them, and what treatment options are available.

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. They can cause vision to become blurred or dim and lead to complete blindness. Not surprisingly, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, worldwide.

Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye, which is made up of protein and water, becomes cloudy. The reason for this is simple: over time, the lens becomes less transparent due to damage to the proteins within it. This causes light passing through the lens to scatter and distort images seen by your retina—the tissue at the back of your eye responsible for sending visual signals to your brain.

Cataracts can develop as early as age 40 but are most common in people over 65 years old (about 10% of Americans have cataracts by age 65). While there’s no cure for cataracts, there are treatments available that can slow their progression and improve vision in some cases.

Cataracts typically develop as a result of aging, but they can also be caused by diabetes or exposure to chemicals.

Cataract Symptoms

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Distorted color vision (for example, seeing yellow when there is actually a red object)
  • Diminished night vision
  • Flashes or streaks in your field of vision (in some cases, this is a sign that you have multiple cataracts)
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty reading fine print 

Treatment Options

Optometrists can treat cataracts in many ways depending on how severe your condition is. Treatment options include:

  • Prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes from damage caused by ultraviolet light
  • Glasses or contact lenses if you have trouble seeing close up or far away
  • An intraocular lens if you need more optical correction than glasses can provide
  • Eye surgery to remove the cataract and replace it with an artificial lens
  • Laser surgery for more advanced cases of cataracts-cataract surgery 

If you have more questions or wish to schedule an eye examination, please feel free to call our Closter, NJ optometry office anytime!

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