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floaters and cataracts
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floaters and cataracts

After nearly wiping out while driving in a rain storm, after dark, in construction and with lights coming directly at me, I realize it is time to do something about the cataracts that, up to this point, I have been able to ignore.

I have been doing some online investigating to prepare for my appointment with the new opthomologist but have a question I can't find the answer to anywhere.  For quite some time I have seen what appears to be long fine "floaters" in both eyes.  They look like the edges of cellophane or fine hairs in my field of vision.  I just assumed they were from the cataracts----are they?  They are a nuisance when looking at something solid colored.

Also---if I look intently at something with straight parrallel edges, the edges appear to vibrate.  What's with that?  My Dad lost his vision to macular degeneration and at one point I was under the care of a specialist due to macular drusen (I was quite young for the condition---40) but have been told by new docs in a different city that they don't see them.  Related?  Am I being paranoid?

Thanks for the help---sometimes general websites just aren't up to finding precise information.
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The fine hairs in your field of vision, especially if they 'move' with eye movements are not cataracts but most likely vitreous floaters. Cataract surgery will not make them go away, in fact after surgery many people see floaters they couldn't see when the cataract reduced their vision.

Your problems with driving at night, driving in the rain, glare, flaring, 'rays' are all classic cataract complaints.

Distortion and curving of straight lines is not characteristic of cataracts or floaters and suggest the possibility of macular problems. You might use Google and do an image search of 'amsler grid' read how to do the test, print out a grid and test yourself. Any distortion of the grid lines necessitates an examination by an ophthalmologist (Eye physician = Eye MD)

There are several types of macular drusen. 'Hard' drusen are small discreet and non-confluent. Generally they don't act as a precursor to age related macular degeneration. some ophthalmologist might even consider a small number of very small hard drusen a normal finding. Soft drusen are large, irregularly shaped yellow spots in the macular and they do represent abnormalities of one of the layers of the retina and are part of dry macular degeneration and may serve as a source for wet macular degeneration to develop.

Recent studies from several universities (a direct benefit of the Human Genome Project in which human chromosomes were sequenced and the millions of base pairs that they are made of identified) have found that two genes account for 90% of all cases of macular degeneration. So you are at an increased risk for that. At present it is not possible to have people tested for these two genes.

You can use the search feature on this page and the archives of the two eye forums to learn more about what you can do to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. A yearly examination by an ophthalmologist is paramount, eat a good diet (fruits vegetables, fiber, berries, nuts, fish), cut down on fatty food and high calorie carbohydrates, eat a lot of lutein containing food (spinach, greens, collards, broccoli, asperagus, etc), don't smoke, protect your eye from sunlight with a hat and UV blocking sunglasses, take a multi-vitamin and consider taking an AREDS supplement with lutein (example Preservision with Lutein).

JCH   MD  Eye Physician & Surgeon  (Eye MD)
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