June is Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and there are 24 million Americans over the age of 40 who are affected by cataracts. Because this condition affects so many, we want our patients to be aware of the symptoms and know that VisionFirst is here to help.
A cataract is not a disease but an aging process. As the eye ages, the normal lens inside the eye becomes cloudy. The lens focuses light rays on the retina at the back of the eye to produce a sharp image of what we see. When the lens becomes cloudy, the light rays cannot pass easily through it, and the image becomes blurry. It can be compared to a window that is frosted or “fogged” with steam. Living with cataracts can be extremely frustrating and dangerous to the most basic activities, like driving, reading, and exercising - especially at night.
Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Increasing difficulty with vision at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Double vision in a single eye
Although cataracts cannot be completely prevented, there are some things that will help delay their development. Research suggests that smoking increases the chance of developing cataracts, as does excessive alcohol consumption. Stopping these “bad” habits will keep your eyes healthier. Vitamin supplements are also a great way to make up for those nutrients our eyes may be missing. Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, selenium, and vitamins C and E may ward off cataract development. We would also recommend protecting your eyes from the sun as ultraviolet light can hasten the formation of cataracts. And finally, as we always recommend for your best eyesight, schedule routine eye exams to monitor your eye health and to look for signs of cataracts.
When treatment is required, cataract removal is one of the most frequently performed operations in the United States. It is usually an outpatient procedure and is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery. Many cataract patients wish they hadn’t waited so long to have the surgery. The doctors at VisionFirst have long-lasting relationships with the most trusted cataract surgeons in the region and we are happy to assist you in finding the best surgeon for you. Plus, we will make sure you are provided with the best eye health care before and after the surgery.