Professional truck drivers rely heavily on their eyes to perform their jobs safely and effectively. Therefore, eye conditions can be devastating, or even career-ending.
This month I am going to discuss cataracts, a common eye condition that involves the clouding of the lens in the eye.
I recently had a patient, who is a profession truck driver, tell me how he first noticed his cataracts. He initially took his truck to the mechanic because he thought the windows in his truck were fogging up.
However, the mechanic was unable to find anything wrong with the truck’s ventilation system. Over time, my patient noticed that his car windows were starting to fog as well. It was this that prompted him to consult his optometrist. It was then discovered that he had cataracts forming in both eyes.
The main symptom of cataracts is cloudy or blurry vision.
Many people with cataracts report it is similar to looking through a fogged-up window. Most cataracts develop slowly. As such, many people do not experience any significant symptoms until the cataract has grown.
Often, cataracts only affect a small portion of the eye’s lens at first, however, as it increases in size, the symptoms tend to become more noticeable. Although blurry vision is the most common symptom, other symptoms include decreased vision at night, seeing halos or rings around lights, and double vision.
The symptoms associated with cataracts are due to the lens of your eye not being able to focus the light that passes through the eye. The cataract scatters or disperses the light, which prevents a sharply defined image.
The most common causes of cataracts are age and injury-related changes in the tissue that make up the lens of your eye. Other risk factors include diabetes, alcohol abuse, high blood pressure, and smoking.
If you suspect that you have a cataract, it is important to seek medical attention. In order to determine if you have a cataract, your doctor may perform a number of tests, which may include a visual acuity test as well as other, more sophisticated, testing.
In most cases, the recommended treatment for cataracts is surgery. However, for most people, there is no rush to surgically remove the cataracts, as they usually progress slowly and do not damage the eye.
Cataract surgery is relatively simple. Basically, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and then replaces it with a plastic lens implant. In general, this type of surgery does not require hospitalization and you should be able to go home after the surgery.
Most patients remain awake during the surgery. The surgeon will use local anesthetic to numb the eye and surrounding area. Cataract surgery is common and is generally considered to be safe and effective.
The prevention of cataracts is difficult, as the exact cause is not clearly understood. However, having regular eye examinations and living a healthy lifestyle, which includes a diet high in fruits and vegetables, seems to reduce the risk.
Also, wearing sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet light may also decrease the risk of developing cataracts. This point is especially important for truck drivers, as you are exposed to more direct sunlight than the general population. I always recommend to my patients that they invest in a good quality pair of polarized sunglasses.
As you can see, cataracts are not considered a life-threatening medical condition. However, if left untreated, the associated symptoms can become debilitating.
Keep in mind these simple prevention tips and you will be well on your way to maintaining crystal clear vision.
Until next time, drive safely.
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