Cataracts can cause reduced clarity and vision impairment—sometimes akin to seeing through a frosted window—and they affect a staggering 70% of Americans by the age of 75.
That’s why, during Cataract Awareness Month in June, UTMB Health ophthalmologists are highlighting ways to recognize the signs of cataract development, so individuals know when they should contact their doctor with concerns.
Cataracts occur when collagen cross-links inside the eye, causing the lens to become cloudy and eventually change its structure.
According to UTMB Health ophthalmologists Dr. Humair Khan and Dr. Aishat Adebayo, the first five symptoms of cataract development are:
- Lights appear to give off a glare or halo, especially while driving
- Cloudy or blurry vision that interferes with activities such as watching TV, working on the computer and reading books
- Colors appear to be faded or less vivid
- Difficulty seeing fine details like dust and dirt
- Poor vision, despite wearing corrective lenses with an up-to-date prescription.
Various factors can cause cataracts, which are often overlooked by people, according to Dr. Khan. Apart from age-related causes, certain conditions or trauma from accidents involving airbag deployment, blunt-force injuries, electrocution and more can lead to cataracts in younger individuals.
"It is possible that you are developing cataracts as a result of an underlying disease that has been present for many years,” Dr. Khan said. “People may not be aware that if they have asthma or COPD and have been taking steroids over time, those steroids can also cause cataracts."
Safe and effective, cataract surgery has undergone drastic improvements over the years, and UTMB Health ophthalmologists are at the forefront of that progress.
"We have exemplary facilities and offer a high level of patient care doing whatever we can to help patients," Dr. Khan said. "In the case of severe claustrophobia or severe anxiety, for example, we are able to have our anesthesiologists put the patient [under general anesthesia] and intubate them if necessary."
Given its extended network of care, UTMB Health coordinates procedures like cataract removal with the patient’s other providers and specialists—such as heart surgeons, cardiologists, pulmonologists and primary care doctors—to ensure treatments align with the best interest of the patient.
“UTMB [is] the best place to have cataract surgery, and for patients living in the local area it's also probably the most convenient option because otherwise they'd have to travel quite a distance," Dr. Khan said.
UTMB Health patient Velma Doublin described the process as very simple and painless.
Dr. Nishi shared some tips on balancing work, family and personal life while maintaining one’s mental health, emphasizing that it is a continuous cycle and a constant work in progress.
“Dr. Khan and the entire team at UTMB made the process very easy to go through,” Doublin said. “I get all my treatments done at UTMB. I can go to UTMB and be seen by all my doctors, which is great.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms, take control of your vision by scheduling an appointment for cataract consultation with one of the members of the ophthalmology team at UTMB. Visit utmbhealth.com to
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