Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cataracts Cloud Lens, Block Light to Retina

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cataracts Cloud Lens, Block Light to Retina

Article excerpt

Dear Dr. Donohue: Do you go blind in time if your don't operate on your cataract?

If a cataract completely clouds the eye's lens, vision is lost, because no light can get through the opaque lens to the retina. It would be like trying to look through a window that hasn't been washed in decades.

The eye's lens lies directly behind the pupil. As people age, the lens becomes dirty, so to speak, with materials it has accumulated over a lifetime of focusing light on the retina. Most people have their cataracts removed long before it blocks all light reaching the retina. The best time for removal is when a person reaches the stage that the cataract interferes with the activities of daily life, such as reading the newspaper, sewing or watching television. I don't know a solitary person these days who waits until his vision is totally blocked before going in for surgery. If anyone did wait that long, vision could still be restored by removing the opaque lens and inserting an artificial one. If you fear such surgery, don't. The operation is not long, nor is it painful. Some of the most satisfied patients I have had are those who had clear vision restored through cataract surgery. *** Dear Dr. Donohue: Several months ago I read your column about glaucoma. I'm glad you included it. More than 2 million people have glaucoma, and half of those who have it don't know it. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has launched "Glaucoma 2001," a program that offers free glaucoma exams to uninsured individuals at risk. People can call (800) 391-3937 for a referral to a volunteer ophthalmologist who will conduct an initial exam and provide appropriate medical treatment at no out-of-pocket expense to the patient. Thank you for alerting the public to the academy's extraordinary service. As I understand it, people who have a prepaid health plan or belong to a health-maintenance organization are ineligible. …

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