It started when she was 65. Martha stopped driving at night, claiming that the headlights heading in her direction were blinding her. It was getting increasingly difficult to read the morning paper and the bright painting she loved on her kitchen wall of sunflowers and marigolds seemed to be growing dimmer with each passing day. Martha eventually made an appointment with her eye doctor only to find out that she was developing cataracts and, if her quality of life was being affected, surgery was her only option.
Cataracts are very common, affecting more than 22 million Americans over the age of 39. Worldwide, they are the leading cause of blindness. The lens of the eye is made up primarily of water and protein. When this protein starts to clump together, a clouding of the lens results and a cataract is formed. Risk factors that appear to be associated with developing cataracts include diabetes, UV light from the sun, high blood pressure, smoking, corticosteroid medications, eye injury and significant alcohol intake. Currently, the only treatment is surgery, In America, surgery involves replacing the lens. It is highly effective and is the most frequently performed surgery in the U.S.
While not all medical professionals agree, there is evidence that some nutrients may reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Several studies suggest that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, found in eye tissue, can decrease the risk of cataracts. Other nutrients include vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Good food sources include leafy greens, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and salmon.
It’s important to help your loved one adapt and remain safe following the first few weeks after cataract surgery. Their vision may be blurry and their depth perception thrown off a bit. To keep them safe, prepare their home with a safety inspection. Complete the following:
- Remove or rearrange all slipping and tripping hazards. Walk common pathways and look for furniture that might be intruding, throw rugs that need to be discarded, or clutter that could be a hindrance.
- Place grab bars in appropriate places such as in the shower and by the toilet.
- Make sure the lighting in your parent’s home is more than adequate. Consider installing motion sensor lights and night lights that form a trail from their bedroom to the bathroom and kitchen.
- Place regularly used items in easy to reach locations.
Senior Care Provider
Consider hiring a senior care provider following your parent’s surgery. Having someone present while the healing unfolds can help them feel a sense of safety. They can also remind your parent when it’s time to use their eye drops, an important key to preventing infection that their doctor will most likely prescribe. They can prepare eye-healthy meals, run errands such as grocery shopping and offer that all-important element of healing—companionship.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Southbury, CT, or the surrounding areas, please contact SYNERGY HomeCare of Danbury, CT at 203-731-2544.