Treating Cataracts and Macular Degeneration

I’m Dr.  Scott Turner, I’m an ophthalmologist and I’m affiliated with Brigham City Community Hospital and work at Brigham Eye Specialists in Brigham City, Utah.

A cataract is a cloudiness to the natural lens. We all have a lens behind the pupil of our eye, and typically at birth that lens is extremely clear. As we age that lens becomes cloudy. The lens can start to yellow and brown and as it does our vision slowly becomes more blurry. There are a variety of risk factors for cataracts.

The number one risk factor is age,which of course none of us can do anything about. But there are some things we can modify. Ultraviolet exposure may increase our risk to cataract. So it’s important for individuals to wear sunglasses or hats. Also smoking we know increases the risk of cataracts. So we encourage individuals to give up the habit of smoking.

Right now the typical treatment for cataracts is surgery. Fortunately, the surgery has low complication rates with high success rates. The surgery has become very good over the last 10 to 15 years. A typical cataract surgery will take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. It’s an outpatient procedure. Patients have the surgery and go home the same day.

The surgery is created through small incisions so there are no stitches that need to come out at a later date. And patients typically feel well even the afternoon after having cataract surgery. I usually ask my patients to take it somewhat easy during that first week, to avoid rubbing their eye,and avoid any real strenuous activity.

Other than that I encourage my patients to do their normal activities. Cataract surgery is definitely one of the more rewarding things that I do. Especially to take somebody who may be on the verge of not being able to maintain their driver’s license because their vision is getting to that level and to get them back to 20/20 or 20/25 vision is very rewarding and a lot of fun, both for me as a physician, but also for the patients.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects individuals over the age of 50. It is exactly as it sounds, it’s a degeneration. The tissues of the macular start to scar and degenerate. Some of the known risks that predispose individuals to macular degeneration are of course age, also smoking.

Smoking is the one thing that we can change,obviously we can’t change our aging. But I do encourage people to discontinue smoking if they are smoking, because that has been shown that smokers get macular degeneration earlier and usually in more severe forms. Some studies have also implicated ultra-violet radiation in the development of macular degeneration.

So I encourage individuals to wear a hat or sunglasses if they’re gonna spend a significant time outdoors. Patients take a vitamin that is the age related eye disease study formula, or AREDs. This has been shown in two studies to decrease the risk of going on to more severe forms of macular degeneration. In wet macular degeneration, vascular endothelial growth factor causes the blood vessels that grow in to leak fluid and to distort the retina and to lift the retina up.

So we inject a medicine that is an antibody to the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor,or VEGF for short. These anti VEGF medicines act like a sponge to absorb the vascular growth factor and keep it from exerting its affect on the blood vessels. If an adult, say 50 or older, is noticing a decrease in vision, they should definitely see an ophthalmologist. Not only could they have macular degeneration they also could have other diseases such as glaucoma or cataracts. And fortunately all of these diseases are treatable, and if we can catch them early and start treatment early,we often times can have a very good visual outcome. ECOVACS DEEBOT N79S