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Faces looking blurry? Seeing halos at night? Could be cataracts

Courtesy photo


An example of normal vision, left, and vision affected by a cataract.

At what age do cataracts strike?

In the United States, age-related lens changes have been reported in 42 percent of people between the ages of 52 and 64, in 60 percent between the ages 65 and 74, and 91 percent between the ages of 75 and 85.

Cataracts affect nearly 22 million Americans 40 and older. By age 80, more than half of all Americans have cataracts.

Information from Wikipedia

Probably the most common eye disease people will develop as they age is cataracts – with glaucoma and macular degeneration also occurring, according to Jennifer Sarmiento, a Prescott optometrist.

Sarmiento spoke to a group of about 25 at Las Fuentes Resort on May 19 about “Living with Eye Disease.”

Risk factors for developing cataracts include the aging process, family history, excessive exposure to sunlight, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. To help lessen the risk, a person needs regular exercise to increase blood flow, eat well, and wear sunglasses, Sarmiento said.

Often cataracts develop so gradually people don’t notice changes in vision. Blurred vision, difficulty with night driving (seeing halos around streetlights or experiencing glare), or frequent prescription changes, all indicate cataract formation.

When is it time for surgery? Sarmiento said when prescription changes no longer improve vision, failure on the vision test at the Department of Motor Vehicles (which requires 20/40 acuity), or one’s quality of life suffers. The diagnosis is confirmed with an eye examination with dilation.

Ophthalmologists give patients their choice of what power lens to replace the ones they will remove. They can choose lenses for seeing distance clearly, up close, or both. The latter is called monovision, where the doctor inserts a lens in one eye that sees clearly at close distances, and one in the other eye that sees clearly at far distances. They do so only if the patient has successfully worn monovision contact lenses in the past and they know it works for the patient.

The patient uses antibiotic eye drops before and after the surgery, which takes just minutes to complete. Complications are few, Sarmiento said. Infection, swelling, inflammation, and rarely, retinal detachment, are possible. Usually, doctors operate on one eye, then come back in a month to do the other eye.

Prescott offers a free support group for people with low vision, and another group that meets at the same time for caregivers of those with low vision. Both meet from 2-3:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at Prescott United Methodist Church, 505 W. Gurley St. in Prescott. For more information, call 928-445-5211, ext. 2672.

Sarmiento found that her one-hour presentation through Senior Connection was not enough time to complete the discussion on glaucoma and macular degeneration as planned. She has more to offer and plans to return at a later date to cover these. Sarmiento is an optometrist with Roadrunner Optical.

The Senior Connection Speakers Bureau offers educational opportunities on a variety of subjects, and does not allow sales pitches. For more information, visit, email, or call 928-778-3747.

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