Cataracts are a common condition that can affect many people. As you age, the lenses in your eyes may lose some of their transparency, leaving you with cloudy vision. Cataracts can significantly impact your vision and quality of life, and if left untreated, they can lead to blindness.
Optometrists play a crucial role in the detection and diagnosis of cataracts. Cataracts can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam with several types of modern diagnostic tests, equipment, and techniques. Routine, comprehensive eye exams are essential for detecting cataracts during their early stages and getting the right treatment for your needs.
The Basics of Cataracts
Our eyes have a clear lens located behind our irises that helps focus light onto our retinas. Cataracts develop when your eye’s lens becomes cloudy, leading to blurred or foggy vision. Cloudiness from cataracts often develops slowly over time, and individuals may not notice significant changes in their vision until a cataract has progressed beyond the early stages.
Cataract Symptoms & Risk Factors
Cataracts can cause blurry vision, double vision, difficulty seeing at night, and sensitivity to light. You may also experience hazy vision, dim vision, or colour dullness with cataracts.
Age is a significant risk factor for cataracts, but you may also be more likely to get early cataracts if you are affected by certain medical conditions, such as:
- High blood pressure
Cataract development can also be affected by genetics, lifestyle choices, and previous eye procedures or accidents. If you have a family history of cataracts, are a smoker, or have had any surgeries on your eyes or eye injuries, it is important to inform your eye doctor during your annual eye exam.
The Role of Optometrists in Detecting Cataracts
During an eye exam, optometrists can use specialized equipment and techniques to evaluate the clarity of your lens, the health of your retina, and the other structures of your eye. There are several tests we may recommend to get a good view of your lens and look for cataracts, including:
We are also trained to help you manage your cataracts once they have been diagnosed. For example, you may be advised to wear sunglasses to reduce glare and protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
What Should You Expect During a Cataract Exam?
If you are at risk of developing cataracts or experiencing possible cataract symptoms, your eye exam may include several steps. Our goal is to fully examine your eyes, provide a clear diagnosis, and help you determine your next steps.
Comprehensive Eye Examination
Comprehensive eye exams typically involve assessing visual acuity, checking for refractive errors, and examining the overall health of your eyes. During these exams, we may detect early signs of cataracts, such as changes in lens clarity or opacity, that call for additional testing.
Those experiencing symptoms like cloudy or blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, or increased sensitivity to light may receive additional testing during their eye exams—especially those who may also have a higher risk of cataract development.
Modern Imaging Technology
Optometrists often use modern imaging equipment, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) devices and slit-lamp devices, to get a detailed view of your eye’s internal structures. These tools aid in the detection and monitoring of cataracts, allowing for a more precise diagnosis and personalized recommendations for treatment.
When Do You Need Cataract Surgery?
Once a diagnosis is made, we can discuss the treatment options available for your needs. Mild cataracts may not require surgery initially. In these cases, we may recommend other ways to support your vision, such as prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses. With advanced cataracts, the only effective treatment is surgery.
While optometrists are skilled in identifying and diagnosing cataracts, the management of cataracts often involves collaboration with ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who focus on providing eye surgery.
We can work with your ophthalmologist to help you prepare for your surgery and answer any questions you may have before the procedure takes place.
After cataract surgery, optometrists often play a crucial role in post-operative care, monitoring patients for any complications and helping make your recovery smooth. If complications do arise, we are ready to evaluate your eyes and provide appropriate treatments.
Let’s Talk About Your Eye Health
Optometrists are vital in the early detection and diagnosis of cataracts, contributing to the overall eye health of their patients. If you have symptoms of cataracts, your optometrist is a great person to visit. We can perform comprehensive eye exams that are designed to diagnose this condition and help you manage symptoms. Cataracts can cause significant vision problems, so early detection and regular eye exams are critical for maintaining good eye health.
If you suspect you have cataracts or are experiencing changes in your vision, schedule an appointment with our optometrists at Broadway Eyecare. A comprehensive eye exam is the first step toward maintaining your eye health and vision.