According to Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization, more than 24 million Americans suffer from cataract, a clouding of the eye’s lens which blocks the passage of light into the eye. In order to better educate the public about this condition of the eye, the organization declared June as Cataract Awareness Month.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. However, unlike other eye diseases, surgery can be performed to restore vision loss due to cataracts. While getting a cataract is fairly common among older adults, it doesn’t have to lead to permanent vision loss.
Cataract Symptoms and Prevention
More than half of all Americans will have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old. While the exact cause of a cataract is unknown, it’s thought to be a condition that comes along as part of the normal aging process. However, sometimes young people or even newborn babies can get a cataract. Still, 95% of cataracts are age-related and usually appear on those past the age of 40.
Some cataract symptoms include blurred vision or a feeling like there is a film over your eyes. You may find it difficult to see in dim light or feel blinded by bright lights. Changing eye prescriptions often and not feeling a difference in your vision from doing so can also be a symptom of a cataract. Sometimes, you can even see the cataract in your eye; you’ll notice a yellowish or milky spot on your pupil.
In order to prevent cataracts, you should be aware of the risk factors for them. These risk factors include certain diseases like diabetes or eye diseases, previous eye injuries, genetics, long-term exposure to intense heat or UV rays from the sun, smoking or steroid use. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating leafy green vegetables and exercising regularly can help prevent cataracts. The main key to preventing vision loss is scheduling regular eye exams throughout your life.
Surgery for Cataracts
Cataracts can form in both eyes, but often not at the same time. Cataract surgery is actually one of the most commonly performed procedures in the country and has a 95% success rate. According to Prevent Blindness, more than two million cataract surgeries are performed every year in the United States. These surgeries have successfully restored vision to many, many people.
Doctors usually won’t remove cataracts from both eyes at the same time. Separate procedures will be scheduled for each eye a few weeks apart. The recovery period includes some mild irritation and sensitivity to light for a short amount of time. Most people can resume normal activities quickly after surgery, seeing an improvement to their vision as soon as the next day!
Even if you are currently not experiencing any problems with your vision, make sure you maintain your annual eye exam appointments, especially if you are age 65 or older.
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