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Cataract Surgery Helps Improve Quality Of Life

Cognitive decline – the slowing of our mental abilities – is something that happens to us all as we age. Visual and hearing impairments have long been known to be associated with cognitive decline and dementia.

One of the most common causes of poor vision in the elderly is cataracts. The benefits of cataract surgery extend beyond seeing better and include a higher perceived healthiness, lower anxiety symptoms and better cognition.

However, what is not entirely clear is if cataract surgery can influence the trajectory of cognitive decline. In the study, researchers compared the rates of cognitive decline in over 2,000 senior citizens followed for 13 years before and after they had cataract surgery.

This study concluded that the rate of cognitive decline decreased by 50 percent after cataract surgery. Additionally, cognitive abilities were similar to those without any cataracts at all.

In their conclusion, the investigators noted that further research is needed to determine the link between cataract surgery and possibly decreasing dementia. However, it is clear that maintaining healthy vision can keep one sharper longer. These findings are promising in the fight against dementia.

Early detection through a comprehensive eye exam can help maintain the clearest vision possible. Schedule an exam with your ophthalmologist today.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care.

May 3, 2019

Diet Can Lower Your Risk of Cataracts

About 25 million Americans have cataracts, which causes cloudy, blurred or dim vision and often develops with advancing age. About 70 percent of people will have cataracts by age 75. In June, Coastal Jersey Eye will join the American Academy of Ophthalmology in observing Cataract Awareness Month by sharing information about cataract risk factors.

Cataracts occur naturally with age and cloud the eye’s lens, turning it opaque. Despite the advent of modern cataract removal surgery, cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness globally. Although cataracts cannot be prevented, you can lower your risk of developing them.

A study published in Ophthalmology suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C could cut risk of cataract progression by a third. Researchers found that people who consumed vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli and kale had a 33 percent risk reduction of cataract progression.

How vitamin C inhibits cataract progression may have to do with its strength as an antioxidant. The fluid inside the eye is normally high in vitamin C, which helps prevents oxidation that clouds the lens. More vitamin C in the diet may increase the amount present in the fluid around the lens, providing extra protection. Researchers noted that the findings only pertain to consuming the nutrient through food and not vitamin supplements.

Since extensive exposure to sunlight has been linked to cataract development, wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and brimmed hats when outdoors can help. Also, avoid smoking cigarettes, which have been shown to increase cataract risk.

Other risk factors for developing cataracts include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and long-term use of steroids. Talk to your ophthalmologist about your risk factors, and if cataracts are interfering with your ability to see well, ask about cataract surgery.

April 3, 2019

Factors Affecting Myopia in Children

With the advent of computers, smartphones, Facebook and other technological wizardry, outdoor fun and games often take second place in the minds of our children. In some cultures, academic success places intense pressure on kids to read and study.

A report last year from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that the average 15-year-old in Shanghai now spends 14 hours per week on homework, compared with five hours in the United Kingdom and six hours in the United States.

There is a worldwide epidemic of childhood nearsightedness (myopia). In Asia, upwards of 90% of young adults need glasses for myopia. In the 1950s, the incidence was 30%.  In the US and UK, myopia rates have doubled in the last 50 years.

For most people, needing glasses or contact lenses is a nuisance. However, a small percentage of children will develop extreme myopia, which can lead to serious eye problems as adults.

While other factors including genetics come into play, the culprit appears to be lack of sunlight exposure. Previously, researchers noted that smarter kids were more likely to be myopic than kids who did less well in school. Thus, the conclusion that reading and studying were the cause of myopia. Wrong!

Newer research shows that the studious kids simply don’t spend enough time outdoors.  Also, it doesn’t matter what kids are doing outdoors – playing, organized sports, reading or just hanging out. The more time outdoors, the lower the risk of myopia. This effect is greatest in those kids with two nearsighted parents, less with one parent and least but still possible with neither parent.

Excessive lengthening of the eye during childhood (not visible when looking at the child) is the cause of myopia. A just-released study from Taiwan showed that stu­dents who spent at least 200 minutes per week outside during school hours have significantly less worsening of nearsightedness and less excessive lengthening of the eyes.

Sunlight exposure, even in the shade, slows down this growth to a normal level. In a study of 6-year-old Chinese children, the addition of 40 minutes of outdoor activity a day reduced the incidence of myopia over the next three years.

March 1, 2019