Cataracts and Macular Degeneration
| Cataract and macular degeneration? Both of these eye conditions are the result of aging and free radical damage to our eyes.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye.
It can occur in one or both eyes. When the lens is clear the retina receives a sharp image.
If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image is blurred.
Color perception and sharpness of vision are also affected. It is the most common cause of vision loss that is age related. However, it is very easily treated with cataract surgery.
As we age different factors cause the lens to become cloudy, hard and dense.
When this happens light cannot get through the lens as it did before and causes our vision to become blurred or hazy.
The lens is also responsible for adjusting the eye's focus so we can see things clearly whether they are up close or far away.
The ability of the lens to focus diminishes as the lens hardens.
Also with advanced cataracts the doctor is unable to detect AMD because he can't see through the cloudy lens.
Symptoms of cataracts are:
√ Light sensitivity
√ Fading of colors and vision
Finding You Have Macular Degeneration After Cataract Surgery
Dr. Randall Wong gives this explanation:
"There are several reasons why patients "find out" about macular degeneration just after cataract surgery.
First and foremost, the vision fails to improve after the cataract is removed. Everyone is disappointed.
Two eye problems become more common as you get older; cataracts and macular degeneration. Often the cataract prohibits a great view of the retina so the macular degeneration creeps along .... everyone thinking it's the cataract. Sometimes the two eye problems develop hand in hand, but in the end....you'll need to take the cataract out anyway.
In a perfect world, everyone considering cataract surgery should see a retina specialist....but that's impractical. Remember, too, that usually the cataract surgeon has no retina training.
The worst thing about this is the unexpected disappointment."
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Dr. Wong is a Retina Specialist in Fairfax, Virginia
Macular degeneration is the loss of our straight ahead or central vision, making it difficult to read, recognize faces or to drive.
It is the most common cause of legal blindness in the U.S. As people age it becomes more common. In this eye disease, it is the macula - a very small spot in the center of the retina - that becomes damaged.
Cataract and macular degeneration have this in common - they are both believed to be caused by oxidation. What is oxidation? Oxidation is the result of free radicals causing damage to our cells which then leads to many age related diseases and degenerative diseases like macular degeneration.
According to Dr. Michael and Marc Rose, authors of Save Your Sight! : Natural Ways to Prevent and Reverse Macular Degeneration
, "An imbalance between free radicals created by oxidation reactions and the antioxidants that neutralize them is one of the common threads of cause and effect this is woven through all the major eye diseases and nearly all of the disabilities and diseases we associate with aging."
The eye is especially vulnerable to oxidation because it is constantly being exposed to ultra-violet and blue light. This damage due to exposure to ultraviolet light is cumulative - meaning that days and years of the eyes being exposed to sunlight results in conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Exposure to ultraviolet light for 5 hours or more a day, including your years as a teen and young adult, increases your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.
Ocular nutrition benefits our vision and helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
Ideally, this nutrition needs to come from food sources and supplements. A diet that includes food low in the glycemic index, high in healthy fats and omega 3s, and rich in antioxidants will help your eyes stay healthy.
To learn more about an eye healthy diet click here:
Vitamins for eyes has been shown in many studies to prevent or delay the development of macular degeneration, cataracts, and vision floaters.
Some common nutrients are bilberry, lutein and zeaxanthin...and fish oil.
Did you know that the Age Related Eye Disease Study not only looked at the affect of high dose antioxidants for macular degeneration, but for cataracts as well? Here is the studies stated purposes:
"1. To assess the clinical course, prognosis, and risk factors of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract.
2. To evaluate, in randomized clinical trials, the effects of pharmacologic doses of (1) antioxidants and zinc on the progression of AMD and (2) antioxidants on the development and progression of lens opacities (cataracts)."
However, the results for cataracts were disappointing. Here are the published results from the National Institute of Health:
"In the cataract portion of the study, researchers discovered that the same nutrients had no significant effect on the development or progression of age-related cataract."
Macular Degeneration and Cataract Surgery
What impact does cataract surgery have on the progression of
There are some anecdotal incidences of the progression of wet macular degeneration after cataract surgery - however, it has not been proven.
Cataracts cause the clouding of the lens on the front of your eyes. This "cloudiness" prevents images and light from entering the eye. Also with advanced cataracts the doctor is unable to detect AMD because he can't see through the cloudy lens.
What used to be a simple decision to have the cataracts removed, becomes more complicated when a person has macular degeneration. Sometimes doctors will recommend that the AMD patient with cataracts wait until the vision loss is more severe before they will do surgery.
If the blurry vision is from a cataract it will be clearer once the cataract is removed. But if the blurred vision is from macular degeneration, the blurred vision will still be present after the cataract surgery.
To learn more read this recent article by Dan Roberts from MD Support about the results of recent studies and the effects of cataract surgery on the progression of macular degeneration:
Cataract Surgery and Macular Degeneration
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