Did you know that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world? The good news, though, is that cataracts are manageable and very treatable. June has been declared Cataract Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness to educate the public on symptoms, types of cataracts, cataract surgery, and more. In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, we will share some quick facts about cataracts and how to treat them.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is when the lens in the eye becomes cloudy due to proteins in the lens breaking down and preventing the passage of light into the eye, which results in blurry or dimmed vision. The lens is what helps to focus an image onto the retina, which transmits the images to the brain. The most common reason cataracts develop is aging. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes.
What are the Risk Factors for Cataracts?
Most people will develop cataracts as part of the aging process. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 55, and over half of the adults over 65 have some degree of cataract development.
Other risk factors for developing cataracts include a family history of cataracts, having diabetes, smoking, having sustained an eye injury, or having undergone radiation treatments on the upper body. Spending a lot of time in the sun without wearing quality sunglasses with UV protection and long-term use of steroids and certain medications can also increase your risk.
What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
Most age-related cataracts develop very slowly, and in the early stages of their development, there may not be any obvious symptoms. Over time, though, as they progress, they will cause changes in vision.
- Blurry, clouded vision.
- Colors seem faded.
- Reduced night vision, especially when driving.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Seeing double.
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription to see clearly.
Sometimes, cataracts develop in younger people or people who have diabetes. When this happens, the progression of their development can be much faster.
What is the Treatment for Cataracts?
During the early stages of cataract development, simply adjusting the eyeglass prescription and using better lighting can help. If you have been diagnosed with cataracts, it’s important to protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing quality sunglasses. You should also limit driving at night if the glare from headlights and streetlights has become a problem and schedule regular comprehensive eye exams to monitor the progression of cataract development.
Once cataracts progress to a certain point, cataract surgery will be recommended. Cataracts can only be removed through surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is a safe, effective procedure, and very common in the United States. During the surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). If you have questions about cataract surgery, the doctors at The Eye Center in Pembroke Pines can address your concerns when you come in for a comprehensive eye exam. If needed, we will refer you to an expert surgeon and co-manage your post-operative care.
It is important for everyone to have regular eye exams, but as you age, you need to have a dilated eye exam at least once every year. The doctors at The Eye Center have the expertise and technology to diagnose and monitor the progression of cataracts. If surgery is recommended, we will refer you to a qualified, expert cataract surgeon and will co-manage the process.