By Thomas H

Cataracts: what aging adults and caregivers need to know  

Changes in vision can make life more challenging, especially for aging adults. If you are caring for a loved one, it’s important to ask them about any changes in their vision and make sure they see an ophthalmologist for regular check-ups. It’s also important to know about some basic steps that everyone can take to protect their eyes as they age.  


Cataracts is one of the most common medical disorders that affect our eyes. With cataracts, the lens of the eye gets cloudy, causing blurred vision. Imagine trying to look through frosted glass instead of a clear, clean windowpane.  Cataracts typically happen to older adults. In the US, Roughly 24 million people over the age of 40 have cataracts. According to the National Eye Institute, by age 80, most people either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery. Surgery for cataracts is common and highly effective. Still, cataracts is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. 

Cataract Risk Factors: 

In addition to age, there are several risk factors for cataracts. They can be hereditary. Also, people with diabetes are more likely to get cataracts. Here are some other factors that can elevate our risk for cataracts:  

  • Exposure to UV rays 
  • Inflamed eye(s) 
  • Injured eyes 
  • Drinking too much alcohol 
  • Taking steroid medications 

Symptoms of Cataracts:

Cataract symptoms can take years to develop, or they make come on relatively quickly once a cataract develops. Every person is different.  

According to the Mayo Clinic the following are common signs of cataracts: 

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision. 
  • Trouble seeing at night. 
  • Sensitivity to light and glare. 
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities. 
  • Seeing “halos” around lights. 
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription. 
  • Fading or yellowing of colors. 
  • Double vision in one eye. 


There can be other reasons for these symptoms. If you are experiencing any of them see a board-certified ophthalmologist to find out if you have cataracts or need to be screened for another medical condition. 

Tips for Protecting Your Eyes: 

Get in the habit of protecting your eyes from injury and risk factors related to cataracts. Here are some tips from JCAH’s Nurse Kim: 

  • Wear sunglasses and/or a hat while in the sun to protect your eyes against heat and UV rays. 
  • See your ophthalmologist right away if you have been experiencing puffy, itching or burning eyes. 
  • Wear protective eye coverings whenever there is a risk of “getting something in your eye” or injuring your eye.  

Cataracts Treatment: 

Currently, surgery is the only effective way to treat cataracts. According to The National Eye Institute, cataract surgery is very safe and it improves the vision of 9 out of 10 people. During the surgery, “the doctor removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a new, artificial lens (also called an intraocular lens, or IOL).” SOURCE: The surgery is done as an outpatient procedure. It can take as little as 10 or 15 minutes. After surgery there can be minor side effects. According to The Cleveland Clinic, it’s normal to experience blurry vision for several days or longer, but this will gradually go away as you recover. Redness, watery eyes, and eyes that feel “gritty” are other common, temporary side effects.    


Remember: be good to your eyes and get in the habit of protecting them from possible harm. And if you or someone you care for are having any problems with your vision, see an ophthalmologist right away! 

JCAH provides award-winning home care to seniors and adults with disabilities. Our services are available at no-cost to eligible veterans and qualified Medicaid recipients. For more information, get in touch today:  




Thomas H. and Nurse Kim 

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