How do I know if I have a cataract and is it easy to treat?
A cataract is not a separate growth; it is formed when protein within the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Symptoms of cataract may include: Blurred vision; difficulty reading; poor night vision and glare. Most everyone who lives long enough will develop cataract in their eyes, as they are a natural progression of aging. Although there can be congenital cataracts and other causes, such as trauma, the majority of cataracts are due to aging.
Once a cataract causes a decreased vision that starts to interfere with normal day to day activities, it needs to be removed. The only way to correct a cataract is to have it surgically removed. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States each year, and most cataract surgeons have performed literally thousands of these procedures.
The primary goal of cataract surgery is to reduce symptoms and restore clearer vision. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and a new artificial lens is implanted. The new lens is called an intraocular lens. Depending on your lifestyle and the anatomy of your eyes, the right lens could not only restore your vision, but may also improve it beyond what you’ve ever experienced. A person’s quality of life is greatly enhanced when their cataracts are removed.
-Kenneth D. Farr, M.D., Palmetto Eye Specialists, PA, SunGate Medical Center, Okatie
If I sit in front of my computer all day am I damaging my eyes? What can I do to minimize risks?
From an optician’s point of view, staring at any electronic devices (computers, phones, tablets, etc.) can cause fatigue. Blue-light filters, no-glare coatings and tints can be beneficial for the protection of your eyes.
-Paul Cilli, Owner, Paul’s Optical, HHI
Do I have to get polarized lenses to stop ultra-violet radiation from going into my eyes?
Lenses can come with a UV absorber without being polarized. However, most people find polarized lenses more comfortable, simply because they eliminate the scattered light off of some surfaces, which causes glare.
-Paul Cilli, Owner, Paul’s Optical, HHI
How important is it for the health of my eyes to take off mascara and eyeliner every night?
It’s important to carefully and gently wash off your eye makeup each night before bed. Mascara and eyeliner can be rubbed by your pillow and end up in your eyes, which can lead to significant eye irritation, an allergic reaction or even an infection. When you sleep in eye makeup, it may result in the clogging of tiny hair follicles and oil glands on your eyelids. When these areas become clogged, bacteria can build-up and cause inflammation. As a result, small bumps called styes can form. These bumps may resolve spontaneously, but many require treatment from your doctor. It is also important to be gentle when you remove your eye cosmetics, as the eyes and skin surrounding them are very sensitive, take the same care using removal products as you do with applying eye makeup—always wash your hands thoroughly before you remove eye makeup. See a doctor if your eye becomes red, itchy or painful or you think it may be infected.
-Kenneth D. Farr, M.D., Palmetto Eye Specialists, PA, Lady’s Island
It seems to be harder to see at night when I’m driving. What is night-blindness and what should I do about it?
Night-blindness is not a complete lack of vision at night, as the name implies. It is a below-average ability to see at night or in low light. Night-blindness, unlike color-blindness, is not a disorder in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. It can occur in people of all ages, even young children. If you have a history of poor night vision, whether it is a recent occurrence or a long-standing problem, you should see your eye doctor for an evaluation.
Your night vision naturally differs from your day vision in many ways. In darkness, the eye is basically color-blind; visual acuity is poor, and the eye sees only a fraction of what it sees in daylight. If you have night blindness, you will have consistent difficulties in seeing at night, but will be able to see normally during the day or when an adequate amount of light is present. You will not be able to see objects in the dark that are easily visible to others, and your eyes may need more time to adjust after you go from a brightly lit space into a dark space, such as a movie theatre. People with night-blindness often have problems driving at night.
Seeing your eye care professional for regular eye examinations is essential to managing night-blindness. You may simply need prescription glasses for driving at night. Early detection is important to avoid the risk of injury to yourself or others while engaged in nighttime activities, such as driving.
-Kenneth D. Farr, M.D., Palmetto Eye Specialists, PA, Hilton Head Island