June is Cataract Awareness Month, a time for educating the public on the risk factors, symptoms and treatment options for cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, with over 24 million Americans having them. Even though cataracts are extremely common, they are difficult to treat. That is why it’s important to be informed, as healthy lifestyle choices may slow the progression of cataracts.
As we celebrate Cataract Awareness Month, here are the most important things to be aware of.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a perfectly normal part of the aging process and happen to almost everyone. By 65, nearly 90 percent of people develop cataracts. Cataracts are the result of protein buildup on the lens. As the lens gets cloudy, less light can pass through, leading to distorted vision.
What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
People are affected differently from cataracts, but the following symptoms are most common:
Cloudy or blurry vision
Difficulty seeing at night
Light and glare sensitivity
Fading of colors
What Treatment Options are Available?
Cataracts are difficult to treat. Early treatment is focused on decreasing the symptoms, such as by wearing new glasses and using brighter lighting. The best and only real treatment is surgery. Cataract surgery removes the deteriorating lens and inserts a new artificial lens. The procedure is relatively safe and only takes about 20 minutes. It’s one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States, and recovery is quick.
Is it Possible to Prevent Cataracts?
While there is no proven way to prevent cataracts, a healthy lifestyle may slow the progression. Eat an eye-healthy diet, wear proper eye protection when playing sports, reduce exposure to UV rays and quit smoking, if you smoke. Also, see your eye doctor regularly to monitor cataracts and other eye conditions.
What Can I Do to Support Cataract Awareness Month?
Because cataracts are so common, it’s important to share this information with family and friends. The key takeaways are leading a healthy lifestyle, visiting the eye doctor regularly and knowing the symptoms of cataracts. If the cataracts do interfere with everyday living, cataract surgery is a safe and practical way to solve the problem.
Once you are diagnosed with cataracts, it’s helpful to work with a retinal specialist who can recommend treatment and surgery. Contact Empire Retina today to learn more about our approach to treating cataract patients.