Diagnosis & Co-Management


Diagnosis & Co-Management


Cataract Diagnosis & Co-Management

Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects many people as they age. At Giles Eye Care in Portland, ME, our team of eye care professionals can diagnose cataracts and recommend treatment to prevent vision loss. If surgery is needed, we will refer you to a trusted ophthalmologist and provide you with pre- and post-operative care.

What are cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudy area that forms on the clear lens of the eye. It occurs when proteins in the eye break down and clump together, making it difficult for light to pass through the lens of your eye. Over time, the cataract gets worse and more of your lens gets cloudy. While most think of cataracts as an age-related condition, they can also form due to trauma or certain medical conditions like diabetes.

Risk factors for cataracts

Age is the greatest risk factor for cataracts. Once a person reaches the age of 60 or older, their risk for developing cataracts increases significantly. If you are over 55, expect Dr. Giles to require a dilated eye exam to test for cataracts.

Other risk factors include:

  • A family history of cataracts
  • Certain medical conditions like diabetes and glaucoma
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye injury or surgery
  • Certain medications such as steroids
  • Poor diet with nutritional deficiencies including a lack of antioxidants
  • Prolonged exposure to UV rays without proper eye protection

Symptoms of cataracts

Cataracts typically develop gradually over years. Signs of cataracts include blurry vision, light sensitivity, difficulty seeing at night, seeing halos around lights, reduced intensity of colors, and frequent changes in eyeglass prescription. People with cataracts may also have difficulty reading the small print on menus or other reading materials. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam (link to comprehensive eye exam page) immediately to prevent severe vision loss.

Diagnosing cataracts

At Giles Eye Care in Portland, ME, Dr. Tracy K. Giles can diagnose cataracts and a range of other eye diseases during a comprehensive eye exam. Your optometrist will perform a series of tests to assess your overall eye health, including a slit lamp exam which uses a low-power microscope to check for cataract formation and other signs of diseases. Your doctor may also measure the pressure within each eye and test your color vision and sensitivity to glare and light.

Treatment for cataracts

Treatment for cataracts will depend on the level of visual impairment they cause. If cataracts have minimal to no effect on your vision, no treatment may be needed. Your doctor may advise you to monitor for increased symptoms and recommend regular comprehensive eye exams to see if your condition worsens. In some cases, adjusting your eyeglass prescription may improve your vision temporarily. Immediate surgery is not necessary. Whether or not you need surgery will depend on how your vision affects your personal safety and the safety of others, your independence, and your ability to read computer screens, books, or watch television.

If your cataracts affect your vision enough that is hard to do everyday tasks, surgery is the only viable option. Dr. Giles will work with you to determine your readiness for surgery and recommend a trusted ophthalmologist.

During the procedure, your ophthalmologist will remove your existing lens and replace it with a new artificial intraocular lens (IOL). After cataract surgery, you should expect your vision to improve within a few days or weeks. Dr. Giles will schedule follow-up visits with you to monitor your progress and recovery.

Cataract prevention

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cataracts, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include wearing sunglasses with UV protection when outside, eating a diet rich in antioxidants, quitting smoking if applicable, and getting regular exercise. You can also lower your risk by managing any preexisting conditions like diabetes and using protective eyewear when engaging in sports or other potentially dangerous activities.

The best form of prevention is to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with a qualified optometrist. Our eye care experts are experienced in diagnosing cataracts and providing pre- and post-operative care for cataract surgery. If you are concerned about cataracts, call us today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam at our office in Portland.