I saw a young woman today complaining of
I saw a young woman today complaining of progressive vision loss. She was worried. She did not know what was going on. Guess what. She had a cataract. Cataracts are common among older adults (65+) but she was young, only 55. Her vision had gotten progressively worse the previous 6 months to point that she was avoiding all night time driving. What is a cataract? Often, when I ask patients what they know about cataracts, they describe it as a film growing over the eye. Sounds less than pleasant, huh? Well, the good news is that it is not really a film growing over your eye. It is a change in the structure of the lens inside your eye. With my patients, I use this analogy. Imagine when you are young that you are given a clear glass of water that you must look through every day. Imagine that on every birthday, someone puts a drop of milk into that glass. Over time, the water would become very opaque and what you see would become washed out and dull. This is an analogy for a type of cataract called a nuclear cataract, the most common type related to aging. Another type of cataract is a cortical cataract. Using the same analogy above, imagine if someone chipped that glass you were looking through. Ugh. Not fun to drive at night looking through that. There are actually quite a few other types of cataracts as well and your doctor will examine your eyes for cataracts during your comprehensive wellness exam. The resolution for cataracts is most commonly surgery. On average, the surgery will last about 7-8 minutes and visual recovery is speedy. Often, patients will not need eyeglasses for distance vision after cataract surgery, even if they have needed them most of their lives. So, next time you hear the “C” word, don’t worry, there is a (bright) light at the end of the tunnel!