McFarland Eye Care provided residents with free cataract screenings Wednesday in conjunction with June being National Cataract Awareness Month.

Darby Wall, McFarland marketing coordinator, said that the free screenings were originally scheduled for one day only, but due to a huge response, the eye care center has extended the screenings for a couple more days to fulfill all scheduled appointments.

Cataracts are the clouding of the eyes’ normally clear lenses and are the principal cause of blindness worldwide. For people with cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb eyesight early on, but, with time, cataracts can severely interfere with vision, causing a loss of mobility and independence, and may negatively impact common functions of day to day life like driving, reading, watching TV, or using a computer.

“As people grow older, one of the greatest fears is losing their independence. Good vision is often the key to keeping that independence,” said Dr. Evan Newbolt, M.D. at McFarland Eye Care, according to a press release. “At McFarland’s, we offer the latest technology in cataract surgery which allows our seniors to keep their active lifestyles, and continue to enjoy work, hobbies and time with family.”

In January of 1990, Dr. Mike McFarland was the first eye surgeon ever to perform cataract surgery without the use of suture or stitches. The first case in world history was performed in Pine Bluff. The technique is commonly called “no-stitch” cataract surgery.

The symptoms of a cataract can include the following: clouded, blurred, or dim vision, increasing difficulty with vision at night, sensitivity to light and glare, seeing “halos” around lights, frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription, fading or yellowing of colors, and double vision in a single eye, according to mcfarlandeye.com/cataract-surgery/.

“So far, we are seeing 44 people for this screening, and people are still calling to get their appointments,” Wall said.

Mattie Hayes, 70 year old Pine Bluff native, was told years ago that she had a cataract in her left eye, and at the time it wasn’t anything to worry about.

She learned about the free screenings through the Pine Bluff Commercial and she scheduled an appointment.

“This is the perfect opportunity for me to check on the condition of my cataract,” Hayes said.

During her free screening, she learned that she has cataracts in both eyes.

“A lot of people have blurry vision but they think they need a referral to be seen by a doctor, or they are nervous and scared,” said Akera Boyd, Ophthalmic Scribe at McFarland’s. “By us making it more available and free for patients to come in, it creates awareness.”

To schedule an appointment, call (800) 451-6686.