Actress and home designer Cheryl Ladd noticed her vision had become hazy. She was no longer comfortable driving at night and had to rely on glasses to read the lines of her scripts. It lessened her ability to enjoy life, including the time she spent golfing, a favourite pastime. Last year, at age 67, Ladd was diagnosed with cataracts and needed surgery.
“I felt afraid that, even after surgery, my vision would never be what it once was,” says Ladd. “But my eye surgeon explained that after cataracts are removed, they are replaced by an artificial lens. Certain lens options could sharpen and extend my range of vision – in addition to getting rid of the cataract haze.”
Cataracts are responsible for more than half of the world’s blindness, affecting more than 20 million people, according to the World Health Organization. In Canada alone, 2.5 million of us live with cataracts, an age-related eye disease that causes clouding of the lens of the eye. It leads to vision loss and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Early signs of the condition include difficulty with night driving, sensitivity to glare, problems with reading and blurriness.
Ophthalmologist and surgeon Dr. Rosa Braga-Mele explains the cause of cataracts: “The lens of the eye is the only tissue in the body that can’t shed its own cells, so the cells build up gradually and compact on each other over time and causes your vision to appear blurry or to have issues with glare. The only way to remove that buildup is to replace the natural lens of the eye with an artificial one.”
When cataracts start to affect daily tasks, it may be time to think about cataract surgery. The minimally invasive procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes and can be done in hospital or, in most provinces, in a surgical centre, under local anesthetic. An eye surgeon will remove the clouded lens and insert a new artificial intraocular lenses (IOL). Innovative lens technology, including the latest and most advanced trifocal lenses, can enable eye surgeons to correct astigmatism and near-sightedness (presbyopia) so patients can see clearly at near, intermediate and far distances with increased spectacle independence. Most patients notice an improvement in their vision within 24 hours and return to regular activities soon after surgery.
“This is an opportunity to address other vision concerns, if the patient wishes to,” says Dr. Braga-Mele, a professor of ophthalmology at University of Toronto. “It is your choice. You can see clearer, and still wear glasses after surgery and your vision will be good, or you can potentially get rid of your glasses with newer intraocular lenses that allow for seamless vision at all distances depending on what your eye anatomy and lifestyle require.”
Ladd seized the chance to correct her vision at the time of her surgery and reduce her need for glasses. “I asked my doctor about the Alcon AcrySof® IQ PanOptix® Lens,” says Ladd. “It’s a trifocal lens that corrects presbyopia. My vision with the PanOptix® lens is clear and complete. I don’t strain to focus. I don’t feel held back. The world looks so colourful now, and I’m free to get out there and enjoy it.”
For Dr. Braga-Mele, the key message is that there’s no need to suffer from the effects of cataracts or not to live life fully. She encourages patients to see their ophthalmologist regularly for eye examinations – generally speaking, once every two years after the age of 50, annually for those over 65, and every six to 12 months for those with underlying health conditions, like diabetes. And if you are diagnosed with cataracts, don’t delay treatment.
“Your ophthalmologist can help guide you to the best lens for you,” she says. “Ask if they offer the latest trifocal lens or other advanced lens choices. The outcomes of this newer technology are so positive. So many of my patients have been very happy with the results. It can be life changing.”
In light of World Sight Day (October 8), it’s a good time to focus on vision health, including screening for cataracts and correcting vision issues with the latest technology.
“There’s no turning back the clock,” says Ladd. “But, if you take an active stake in your health decisions, you can compromise less and do more for yourself. The PanOptix® lens is a game changer… I am very optimistic about all I can do now.”
For more information, speak to your eye care professional and visit SeeTheFullPicture.ca
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