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August is cataract awareness month

August 20, 2011
Reinbeck Courier

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in Americans 65 years of age or older. A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up your eye's lens. Some cataracts are caused by inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems and increase your risk of getting cataracts.

A cataract interferes with light passing through the eye, making it more difficult to read and see clearly. Some of the visual changes adults will notice are: Clouded or blurry vision, sensitivity to light, both nighttime glare and daylight, fading colors, difficulty reading, double vision (often goes away as cataracts worsen) and frequent changes in prescription of eyeglasses and contact lenses.

If the cataract interferes with daily life, cataract surgery may be the best option. "Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, with a success rate of more than 95 percent," says Jeffrey Whitman, MD, an American Academy of Ophthalmology clinical correspondent. During cataract surgery, a small incision is made in the eye and an ultrasound probe is used to break up and suction away the clouded lens of the eye. Once the eye is cleared, a new lens is inserted through the same small incision. This intraocular lens is made from a flexible plastic and is held in place inside the eye with small flexible arms.

Article Photos

Benjamin L. Mason, MD, an Ophthalmologist

After cataract surgery, people often begin to notice improvements in their vision within one day. Patients need to use eye drops for approximately one month after surgery to prevent infection and inflammation and need to avoid heavy lifting, swimming and eye rubbing for about one week after surgery. Often one or two check-ups will occur after surgery to make sure the eyes are healing appropriately. These post operative check-ups can be conveniently scheduled at your local optometrist office.

Benjamin L. Mason, MD, an Ophthalmologist at Wolfe Eye Clinic for five years, works in close association with local optometrists, and performs cataract surgery at GCMH every three weeks. You should speak with your eye care professional about the best options for you.

For more information on other GCMH services please call 319-824-5421 or visit



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