CONTENT FROM GLOBE CONTENT STUDIO
PUBLISHED JULY 9, 2019
As a fine artist, Audrey Robitaille has an appreciation for the beauty of nature. Now retired, the Quebec resident loves to spend her time reading and playing bridge with friends. She first noticed something was amiss when her vision started to become clouded.
“Over time, my vision became blurry and I had difficulty seeing, especially at night,” she recalls. “I noticed it most when I was playing my favourite game of bridge. It was especially hard, because I was used to having eagle eye vision to enjoy my hobbies.”
A visit to her eye care professional determined that she had cataracts, a common eye condition generally among aging adults.
It is one of two most common eye conditions that occur as people age, according to Dr. Kathy Cao, an ophthalmologist with the University of Toronto and Kensington Eye Institute.
“I tell my patients that as we age, it’s normal to develop presbyopia and cataracts, and it can make daily tasks challenging to fulfill,” says Dr. Cao. “Regular eye exams and talking to your eye care professional are important to finding the right solution.”
Presbyopia is a gradual loss in the eye’s ability to pull the lens into shape, affecting the ability to focus on close objects.
It typically impacts people around the age of 40. As a result, they often start to depend on reading glasses or other corrective measures to see up close, whether it’s for reading a menu or smartphone.
Cataracts manifest most often around age 60. “A cataract is the clouding of the lens in your eye, caused from protein buildup over time,” says Cao. “For those who have them, vision becomes increasingly blurry, making it challenging to see.”
Symptoms beyond blurred vision include a sensitivity to brightness, double vision or a halo effect seen around lights. In addition, while aging is the leading factor, the risk of cataracts may accelerate due to UV exposure, smoking, health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and medications like steroids.
If left untreated, cataracts can cause blindness, and are one of the leading causes of vision loss. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 18 million people worldwide are bilaterally blind due to cataracts, accounting for almost half of all global cases of blindness.