June is Cataract Awareness Month
Did you know that cataracts are a leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States, and more than half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old? Also, while uncommon, cataracts can also be found in young people or even newborn babies!
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the colored iris, and is normally transparent. Most often, a cataract is part of getting older, and as you age, you are at greater risk of developing a cataract. Age-related cataracts generally develop gradually over time, but other cataracts can develop more quickly, such as those in younger people or those in people with diabetes.
There is no proven way to prevent age-related cataracts, but choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow their progression. Diabetes, extensive exposure to sunlight, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and certain ethnicities have all been linked to increased risk of cataracts. Eye injuries, prior eye surgery and long-term use of steroid medication can also result in cataracts.
Fortunately, cataracts can be corrected with surgery. An ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in medical and surgical eye care, removes the deteriorated lens and replaces it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens or IOL. Over 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery annually, making it one of the most common surgeries in the United States. The entire surgery lasts only about 20 minutes, and most people can resume normal activities fairly rapidly. Studies have shown that cataract surgery can improve quality of life and reduce the risk of falling, so if cataracts are interfering with your ability to see well, consider asking your ophthalmologist about cataract surgery.
(Information in this blog graciously provided by Your Sight Matters and the American Academy of Ophthalmology)