If you know someone with cataracts who is struggling with daily tasks or no longer enjoying leisure activities because of poor vision, you may be wondering how you can help.
To start, you may be curious about what a cataract actually is. A cataract is an eye condition in which the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, causing vision to appear blurry or faded. Some people describe it as being similar to looking through a foggy windshield.
Although age-related cataracts can develop in our 40s and 50s, it’s usually after age 60 when they begin to cause problems with vision. That’s because cataracts form quite slowly. But when cataracts do begin to interfere with eyesight, they can make everyday activities like driving, reading and cooking more difficult.
So what do you do for someone with cataracts? How can you best assist and support them?
Lend a hand
1. Offer to help with driving.
People with cataracts are sometimes not comfortable driving, especially after dark. When a cataract worsens and clouds more of the eye, it can make it difficult to drive safely. It can be harder to see the road, street signs, other cars and people walking. Night vision can become worse and headlight glare more intense, which is why driving at night can be especially problematic. Helping out with driving and possibly asking other family members to help if they can be of great benefit.
2. Assist with household chores.
Depending on the severity of the cataract, even the smallest tasks around the house can be difficult for someone with poor vision due to cataracts. Things like washing dishes, doing laundry and vacuuming may be difficult. Preparing meals and light cleaning could be a huge help to someone struggling with blurry vision.
Provide helpful guidance
3. Encourage a comprehensive eye exam every year.
Adjusting the strength of glasses or contact lenses may help manage vision loss due to cataracts for a period of time, which means regular visits to the eye doctor. It’s also important to monitor cataract progression and to look out for other potential eye diseases for which early detection is critical.
4. Remind your loved one to wear sunglasses.
Exposure to sunlight is linked to cataracts as well as other eye diseases like macular degeneration. When outdoors, wearing UV protection for the eyes and a wide brimmed hat may slow cataract progression. Reminding your friend or family member to protect their eyes from sun damage may help them keep their eyes healthier for longer.
How to help after cataract surgery
5. Offer to drive to and from their appointment.
Even if having a cataract did not prevent your loved one from driving before cataract surgery, they will not be able to drive immediately after surgery. They will need someone to drive them to and from the surgery, to pick up eye drops and medications (which may possibly even be picked up in advance) and do other errands as needed.
6. Prepare a sitting area with important items within reach.
Organizing an area with everything your friend or family member might need could be very helpful. Cataract surgery patients typically have limits on activities like bending or heavy lifting for a period of time, so the more organized and prepared you can help them be, the easier the recovery period will be. It will be especially important for them to have their prescribed eye drops and other medications readily accessible.
Recent technological advancements intraocular lenses (IOLs) have minimized the need for glasses or contact lenses after cataract surgery. Learn more about the IC-8 lens and how it works in seeing near to far.