June is Cataract Awareness Month
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world.Cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that blocks or changes light’s passage into the eye. It’s very common and occurs with age. Over 24 million Americans over age 40 have cataracts, and it is the leading cause of blindness. Studies suggest that everyone who lives long enough will get cataracts, although there may be some reduced risk for individuals who eat properly, avoid sun exposure and do not smoke. While cataracts can be caused by infection, drug side effects, and physical trauma, the most common cause of cataracts by far is aging. Prevent Blindness America has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and it is the leading cause of blindness in the world.
Here are some basic pieces of information about cataracts everyone should know:
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy over time, and interferes with your vision. Often, this change happens slowly, over a period of years. It can also happen more rapidly, and can be associated with certain medications, trauma, diseases, or prior eye surgery.
What are the symptoms of cataract?
A cataract causes your vision to become blurred, dim, or discolored. It has been described as “like looking through a dirty window” or a “foggy” appearance to the vision. Colors can appear diminished or muted. Night time can seem darker, and oncoming headlights may produce significant glare. As the condition progresses, it may not be possible to improve your vision with glasses.
What can be done to treat cataracts?
Early on in the development of cataracts, changing your glasses prescription may help you to see better. When your vision can no longer be improved with glasses and is interfering with your ability to enjoy your daily activities, it may be time to discuss whether surgery for your cataract could improve your vision.
What is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is the removal of your cataract (the cloudy lens of your eye) and replacement with an artificial lens implant. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, and you return home the same day as your surgery. The procedure may take from 15-30 minutes, and you will need to use prescription eye drops for a few weeks following the procedure. Most people notice improvement in their vision within the first week following surgery.
Are there different types of cataract surgery options?
There have been a number of advances in the technology surrounding cataract surgery. The type of artificial lens that is implanted can sometimes be used to correct some forms of astigmatism. Additionally, laser surgery can be combined with cataract surgery in some patients to try to reduce their dependence upon glasses. You should discuss whether you are a candidate for these types of procedures with your eye surgeon.
There is no proven way to prevent age-related cataracts. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow the progression of cataracts. Some ways to delay the progression of cataracts include avoiding smoking, reducing exposure to UV rays, eating healthy foods, and wearing proper eye protection to avoid eye injury.