Thursday, June 21, 2012

June is Cataract Awareness Month

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshinin' day

By Diane Forrest, RN

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Do you think when Johnny Nash wrote the words to this song that he or someone in his life had cataracts?  My Uncle's mother had cataract surgery last year.  Normally when you have cataract surgery, both eyes are affected.  Two surgeries are required, but are not done together for the purpose of being able to see.  My aunt was elected to transport her to the clinic since my uncle doesn't like to drive in the big city traffic.  The surgeries were a success and her vision was restored.

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A cataract is a film that develops slowly over time behind the lens of the eye.  It clouds your vision much like dirty windows cloud images.  They can occur at any time, from childhood to adulthood.  They even occur in animals.   It is not sure what causes cataracts; some culprits include exposure to radiation and ultraviolet lights.  Other factors include a side effect from other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or iodine deficiency.  Old age, trauma and side effects from medication also account for causes of cataracts.

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There is no known prevention for Cataracts.  It has been suggested that regular intake of antioxidants (such as vitamins A, C and E) is helpful, but taking them as a supplement has not been shown to have a benefit.
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The treatment for cataracts is a simple surgery done under a local anesthetic and the patient is allowed to return home the same day.  While in nursing school I was allowed to observe cataract surgery.  Fluid is injected into the eye making it soft and squishy.  The lens of the eye is then removed, and the film is lifted out.  The lens is replaced, and the eye covered until healed.  Eye drops are sent home to help to promote healing.

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June is Cataract Awareness Month.  If you are over the age of 40, and haven't had your eyes checked recently, now would be a good time to make an appointment to get checked out to make sure you don’t have any problems brewing.

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