June: Cataract Awareness Month
All your questions answered!
What is a Cataract?
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. The lens helps to focus images onto the retina – which transmits the images to the brain.
Your vision may become blurry or dim because the cataract stops light from properly passing through to your retina.
How common are cataracts?
Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States. More than half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old. Cataracts can also sometimes be found in young people or even newborn babies.
Cataract is the world’s leading cause of blindness, accounting for approximately 42 percent of all cases of blindness in all nations. In the United States, more than 25 million Americans are estimated to have cataract, according to the report “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems.” As the population in America continues to age, the number of cataract cases are projected to increase by 50 percent to 38.5 million by 2032.
Am I at risk for developing cataracts?
The exact cause of a cataract is unknown. Most often, a cataract is part of getting older. As you age, you are at greater risk of developing a cataract. There are also several possible risk factors for cataracts, such as:
- Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes
- Inflammation in the eye
- Hereditary influences
- Events before birth, such as German measles in the mother
- Long-term steroid use
- Eye injuries
- Eye diseases
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
Generally, a cataract does not cause pain, redness or tears. The following problems may indicate that you have a cataract:
- You have blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, or the sense of a “film” over your eyes.
- Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work, or you are “dazzled” by strong light.
- You change eyeglass prescriptions often and the change does not seem to help your vision.
- You may also be able to see the cataract in your eye. It may look like a milky or yellowish spot in your pupil.
Why do cataracts form?
Cataracts are probably caused by changes related to aging. Throughout our lives, our bodies replace old cells with new ones. As we grow older, the old cells in our eye’s lens build up and block light as it tries to pass through. The end result is cloudy vision.
Besides getting older, other factors may cause cataracts to form. Eye infections, some medicines (such as steroids), injuries or exposure to intense heat or radiation may cause cataracts. Too much exposure to non-visible sunlight (called UV or ultraviolet light) and various diseases, such as diabetes or metabolic disorders, may also contribute to cataracts forming.
Cataract surgery has restored vision to millions of people. Every year in the U.S., more than two million cataract surgeries are performed.
The key to preventing vision loss is regular eye exams. If you are 65 or older, you should get a complete eye exam every one or two years, even if you have no problem seeing well. Be sure to ask your eye doctor for a dilated eye exam.
Every year in the U.S., more than two million cataract surgeries are performed. Cataract surgeries are performed without complication in over 95% of cases. Still, you will likely have questions, fears or reservations about the procedure. Please call us to schedule and eye exam and discuss your options! Text or pick up the phone - 704-821-5009!