Community Blog

Diagnosing Cataracts in Seniors

By Ketan Patel

Diagnosing Cataracts in Seniors

An in-home caregiver may notice that your loved one is having difficulties as a result of vision problems. Cataracts are often the culprit. Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process. Estimates show that by the age of 80, over 50% of seniors in the United States will have developed cataracts in one or both eyes. An ophthalmologist can diagnose the disorder and rule out other common causes such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Clouding the Lens

A cataract occurs when the lens at the front of the eye becomes cloudy, resulting in diminished vision. The lens is the clear portion of the eye that focuses light on the retina, the light sensitive area at the back of the eye. When the lens becomes cloudy due to a cataract, the image on the retina is blurred. When that happens, nerve signals to the brain result in blurry vision. Cataracts develop slowly, but left untreated, they can cause blindness.

Why Seniors Develop Cataracts

The majority of cataracts develop because of aging. The lens is made of protein and water, and as people age the protein can clump together and cloud the lens, forming a cataract. Researchers believe that cataracts may develop more quickly due to smoking, eye disease or injuries along with the use of steroids to treat asthma and other medical disorders. Family history can affect cataracts, as well as exposure to UV light. Diabetics may get cataracts at an earlier age due to high blood sugar levels that damage the lens.

How Cataracts Affect Vision

Cataracts can have a serious effect on an aging senior’s vision. The normally clear lens changes slowly to a yellow or brown color, resulting in a brown tint to vision. Blurred vision can make reading and other everyday activities more difficult. A home healthcare worker may notice that your loved one is having trouble differentiating colors like purples, blacks and blues. People with cataracts may find that they are changing their eyeglass prescription more frequently, or they may develop double vision. Seniors may find it difficult to see at night or they may see halos around lights. Lamps may produce a glare and sunlight can appear overly bright. Cataracts can affect driving, using the computer, reading and watching TV.

Making the Cataract Diagnosis

If your aging loved one are suffering from any of these symptoms, a comprehensive eye examination is in order. The doctor will perform a visual acuity test, a dilated eye exam to observe the retina and optic nerve, and tonometry to measure the pressure inside the eye. If the diagnosis is cataracts, the doctor may recommend a stronger eyeglass prescription or brighter lighting. Eventually, surgery to remove and replace the clouded lens is recommended.

Hiring a Caregiver

An in-home caregiver can help your loved one with cataracts and provide transportation to doctor’s appointments and social activities. Home Helpers of South Shore is owned and operated by a compassionate health professional with a strong understanding of the needs of aging seniors. Contact Home Helpers to help your aging loved one.

Please fill out the form on the left and we will get in touch with you about setting up in-home health care, or call us at 781-585-1244 to determine the plan that is right for you.

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Abington , Braintree , Brockton , Buzzards Bay , Carver , Cohasset, Dighton , Duxbury , Falmouth , Halifax , Hanson , Hingham , Holbrook , Hull , Humarock , Kingston , Lakeville , Marshfield , Mashpee , Middleboro , Norwell , Pembroke , Plymouth , Plympton , Quincy , Randolph , Rockland , Sandwich , Scituate , Taunton , Wareham , Weymouth , Whitman