October 2008 Issue
Cataract Surgery: Success for Many Pilots
Itís considered one of the safest surgeries out there and it should let you keep, or regain, your flying privileges.
Just when youíve got a few decades of aviation experience under your slightly expanding belt, and have lost that wide-eyed rookie look Ö things start to look blurry and hazy. Every day. And then your doctor drops the hammer: Youíve got cataracts. But the news isnít as bad as it could have been 30 years ago. Cataracts are fixable. A cataract occurs when the normal clarity of the lens of the eye is reduced, resulting in blurred, cloudy vision. These chemical changes are frequently caused by normal aging, but can also be caused by medications, injury, diseases, or environmental factors such as UV exposure or smoking. Cataracts usually occur in people 55 and older, and usually develop in both eyes, although at different rates. They impair your visual acuity in dim light, and also create light sensitivity and glare. Vision with a cataract is similar to looking through a steamy window. In addition to cloudy vision, cataracts also cause a number of other symptoms, such as dark shadows that seem to move with the eye (similar to "floaters," or loose cells within the fluid of the eyeball), the need to use more light to read, double vision, a loss of color vision, as well as increased nearsightedness as the lens becomes denser.
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