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VA MidSouth Healthcare Network


Feature Article - Cataract Awareness

Veterans Health WatchGraphic Showing Differences between normal vision, mild cataract, and advancing cataract

More than half of Americans by age 80 have been diagnosed with cataracts or had cataract surgery, according to the National Eye Institute.

A cataract is an age-related clouding of the crystalline eye lens. The lens is located inside the eye just behind the iris. As we age, this transparent lens becomes opaque, leading to impaired vision. 

Researchers aren’t sure what exactly causes cataracts, but chemical changes that occur in the lens over time likely play a role. By age 65, most people have some degree of lens clouding, although usually minor.

What are the symptoms?

The following symptoms might mean that a cataract is forming, although the only way to know for sure is to have a complete eye exam. See an eye doctor if you experience:

  • cloudy, fuzzy, foggy or filmy vision
  • changes in the way you see colors
  • problems driving at night because headlights seem too bright
  • problems with sun glare
  • frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription
  • double vision
  • temporary better vision in previously farsighted people (second sight)

Prevent cataracts from developing

Man With Glasses“There appears to be a correlation between smoking and cataract development, so that’s another good reason to quit using tobacco products,” says Donald Seibert, O.D., chief of optometry services at VA Medical Center in Huntington. “Ultraviolet [UV] radiation from the sun may also increase the rate of cataract progression, but wearing UV-blocking sunglasses will prevent UV light from reaching the crystalline lens.”

Surgical solution

Cataract treatment often involves only a change in eyeglasses in mild cases. However, surgery may be needed if impaired vision is affecting your ability to function.

Cataract surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. The crystalline eye lens is removed and replaced with an implant. Vision improves within a short time after surgery. Complications are rare but may include bleeding or infection.

Although cataract surgery is safe, patients and their doctors should consider surgery only if glasses or other aids do not help and the patient’s everyday functions are compromised significantly.




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This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, which should be obtained from your doctor.


Schedule an Eye Exam Today!*

  Huntington Eye Clinic
(304) 429-6741 ext. 2886/3886

  Lexington Ophthalmology Clinic
(859) 233-4511 ext. 4479/4117

  Lexington Optometry Clinic
(859) 233-4511 ext. 3604/3801

Louisville Eye Clinic
(502) 287-4811 

Mountain Home Eye Clinic
(423) 926-1171 ext. 7283

Memphis Optometry Clinic
(901) 523-8990 ext. 5550

Murfreesboro Eye Clinic
(615) 867-6000 ext. 3743

  Nashville Eye Clinic
(615) 327-4751 ext. 5669 

* A referral from your primary care physician may be required.