June is Cataract Awareness Month, a time to bring attention and awareness to a condition that is the most common cause of blindness worldwide. Prevent Blindness America estimates that close to 25 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts. Cataracts are essentially the clouding of the lens inside the eye - the part behind the iris that focuses light to the retina in order to produce clear images for us to see. Although this clouding can be caused by certain medications, diseases (diabetes), or trauma, the most common cause is the normal aging process. The risk for certain eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration can increase with age, but cataracts are basically bound to occur and have a very high success rate of treatment. You can reduce or delay your risk of developing a cataract by doing the following:
- Wear UV protection
- Stop smoking
- Control blood sugar if diabetic
- Eat a diet with more leafy, green vegetables and foods rich with antioxidants
As cataracts develop, the vision becomes blurry, lights at night become more bothersome, and glare, halos, ghost images, and color distortion can all occur. Cataracts should be monitored with an annual comprehensive eye exam and if appropriate, cataract surgery would be performed. Today, a cataract surgery itself would only take about 10-15 minutes and has about a 90% success rate. It has become extremely common, making it the number one surgical procedure paid for by Medicare. Cataract surgeries have come a long way, and until we invent a time machine to reverse birthdays, eye care professionals can work with you to help manage cataracts.