DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My doctor gave me some very unsettling news. He says I have cataracts in both eyes. I haven’t been able to sleep since he told me. My aunt was blind later in life. I don’t know the cause, but I do know that life was very tough for her.
I haven’t contacted the ophthalmologist my doctor referred me to. I’m too scared. How are cataracts treated? How long is recuperation? — S.M.
ANSWER: If a doctor examined the eyes of most people over 60, the doctor would tell them they have the beginning of a cataract. Do you know what a cataract is? Right behind the pupil is the eye’s lens, a small, oval-shaped, perfectly clear structure. The lens focuses light on the retina in the back of the eye, so we get a clear picture of what we see.
A cataract is a smudge in the lens. Proteins in the lens have stuck to each other to produce a stain in the lens like a thumbprint on the lens of glasses. Your cataract must not be large. You have no complaints of it interfering with your vision. Most cataracts result from aging. Smoking, alcohol excess, constant exposure to sunlight and long-term use of high doses of cortisone drugs also contribute to cataract formation.
The evolution of your cataract to one that blurs vision is unpredictable. The process is painless. Difficulty seeing at night and difficulty reading fine print are early symptoms of cataracts affecting vision.
Treatment is close to miraculous. When the lens smudge greatly affects vision, the eye doctor removes the lens and replaces it with a lens made of plastic or silicone. Cataract removal is done as an outpatient. You can be up and about by the evening of surgery or the following day. You’ll be astounded at the minimum inconvenience of the procedure and with the vision that results from it.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What’s the best time to take a multivitamin? I take one in the morning. That way I don’t forget to take it. — L.M.
ANSWER: I believe this is the most frequently asked question I get.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins. They’re better absorbed if they’re taken after a meal that has some fat or oils in it. Vitamins B and C are watersoluble and can be taken at any time.
I’m not convinced that the timing of vitamin-taking is all that important. Take your multivitamin when it’s most convenient.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I lift weights seven days a week. I am making progress. My arms are much bigger than they were. I’ve been told I’m overdoing it by lifting every day. Am I? — R.S.
ANSWER: It’s not a good idea to perform the same weightlifting exercises on consecutive days. Muscles need a full 48 hours to recover, rebuild and grow after an intense exercise session.
A day of lifting and then a day of rest is a good schedule. You can lift weights daily if you want to. Just don’t work the same muscles on consecutive days.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
©2013 North America Synd.