What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are generally a normal part of getting older that begin to appear after 40 years of age when the proteins comprising the lens of the eye often begin to degrade or lump together. The fogginess resulting from cataracts progressively worsens and stops light from arriving at the retina the way it needs to. This fogging ultimately leads to loss of vision, and typically, total blindness if not diagnosed and properly treated in a timely manner. Optometrists Dr. Daxx Dunn, Dr. Marla Weldon, Dr. Kelly Short, and their team are equipped for finding and addressing cataracts in the first stages, as well as in guiding our patients in the best ways for dealing with progressing symptoms. At Family Vision Care, we see people with cataracts nearly daily, as this is a common ocular issue. Cataracts can progress quite slowly so men and women in the primary stages frequently are not even aware of their condition. This condition is a major reason why undergoing in-depth eye exams at least every two years is critical to your overall eye health. In the event surgery is needed to correct your cataract, we are happy to co-manage your care with some of the most reputable cataract surgeons in the Nashville, TN area. Reach out to our Franklin, TN office today to schedule a comprehensive exam, and learn how we can help you manage your symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cataracts?
The main symptom of a cataract is progressively foggy eyesight that isn’t sharpened by a patient’s current glasses prescription. Most people also realize they have to use more light to be able to read. Additional sight-related symptoms could include limited night vision, noticing more glare or halos, and seeing with an overall brownish cast. Cataracts aren’t physically uncomfortable and can be there for many years before they result in any vision problems. For the majority of patients, the condition starts to develop somewhere between 40 – 50 years of age; however, most patients don’t have any symptoms until their 60s.
What Causes Cataracts?
Cataracts are an unavoidable part of getting older caused by the natural breakdown of the proteins within the lens of the eye. This process takes place in everyone, though there are other lifestyle and medical factors that can exacerbate the condition. Behavioral issues, for example, cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol (excessive consumption), and heavy sun exposure, have been shown to correspond with cataracts, as have some medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Additional factors that could worsen the formation of cataracts include:
- A family history of cataracts
- Previous eye surgery
- Some medications, like steroids
- Injury to the eye
- Degenerative myopia
"Wow! What great and friendly service today - a definite 5 stars! My old Ray-Ban frames were crumbing apart at the ear pieces. The on- duty optician switched my lenses to the new Ray-Ban frames that I purchased there. She did a outstanding job! I highly recommend this office! -J. Loyd, Franklin, TN"- J. / Google / Jul 14, 2021
"I go every year for my check up. Very straightforward. Always clear pricing. Quality exam for a fair cost. The doctor is nice and takes time for what you need. Always happy with my visits and everyone is absolutely so friendly"- B.H. / Google / Jun 14, 2021
"Super friendly and knowledgeable staff."- R.E. / Google / Apr 14, 2021
"From the phone call to schedule to the testing process to the payment, this office is by far the kindest most efficient office I have ever been a part of. Thank you all!"- T.V. / Google / Apr 14, 2021
"This group of medical professionals offer a friendly atmosphere incorporated with a high degree of professionalism. I have been a patient of Dr. Dunn's for years, and with unusual eye conditions, I feel so thankful that he is my doctor, offering expansive knowledge in this field. My daughter also uses this clinic. As a child with severe headaches, we had seen many specialists, none of whom were able to help her. When she went to this clinic, they determined during a routine eye exam the condition she had, and finally after almost 20 years have been able to rectify the situation. The professionalism, knowledge, care, and compassion for their patients is superb."- S.C. / Google / Apr 14, 2021
How are cataracts diagnosed?
To find out if a patient has a cataract, an eye doctor has to perform a comprehensive eye exam. The team at Family Vision Care is very experienced in the tests included in an in-depth cataract exam. The most effective tests to check for a cataract are all very easy, fast, and cause minimal discomfort.
First, Dr. Dunn will perform a routine acuity test. This is typically done with a basic eye chart. After that, he may do a contrast sensitivity test. This is a lot like an acuity test but gauges how easily the patient is able to see contrast in images. Then, a slit-lamp exam is often performed. For a slit-lamp exam, Dr. Dunn uses a customized microscope that emits a powerful but extremely thin “slit” of illumination into the eye to observe its more outward structures. To complete the tests, he will do the retinal exam and depending on the results, a potential acuity (PAM) exam. Before these tests, dilating the pupils using eye drops is necessary. This is critical because it enables the most effective view to check the whole lens for any cataracts. If any are detected, then the potential acuity exam might be done. A potential acuity exam measures a patient’s potential acuity without the cataract. The PAM can be quite important in selecting an IOL if the patient needs to have surgery.
How Are Cataracts Treated?
If any cataracts are detected at Family Vision Care, then the potential acuity exam should be done, which measures a patient’s potential vision without the cataract. If this test establishes that you have a cataract, a member of our team will begin to discuss the different approaches to treatment. The treatments for cataracts are always related to the advanced degree of the condition. When cataracts are detected early enough, we are able to help a lot of our patients manage with new prescription glasses or contact lenses. For those patients whose cataracts have advanced, laser or traditional cataract surgery may be necessary. In these cases, we work with a variety of cutting-edge cataract surgeons.
What are the most common risk factors for developing cataracts?
Genetics and lifestyle play the most significant role in determining your risks of developing cataracts. Other risk factors include age, diabetes, obesity, severe myopia, smoking, frequent sunlight exposure, eye injuries, some eye surgeries, frequent alcohol use, long-term corticosteroid use, and more.
How can I reduce my risk of developing cataracts?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can dramatically improve your overall health while reducing the number of cataract risks. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake can further reduce risks. Also wearing UV-protecting sunglasses and limiting sunlight exposure while outside is another easy way to reduce the risks of cataracts.
How long do treatments for cataracts take?
Both traditional cataract surgery and laser cataract surgery are very quick and often able to be completed in less than 30 minutes. They are typically performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home after you're finished.
Clarity after Cataracts
Greater Nashville, TN individuals who have any symptoms, such as blurriness, cloudiness, or sensitivity to light, or who haven’t gone in for a comprehensive eye exam in the last two years need to schedule a visit to Family Vision Care. Especially for individuals who are in their 40s, getting comprehensive eye exams at least every two years is very important to finding and treating cataracts, as well as other eye conditions. With a prompt diagnosis, we can recommend an individualized plan to manage your cataracts. For more information, contact Drs. Dunn, Weldon, and Short at our Franklin, TN office.