Cataract Awareness Month

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision[1]. Most cataracts are due to age-related changes in the lens. Cataracts are common among older adults. Cataracts can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination.

 

Cataract 1

Normal Vision

Cataract 2

The same viewed by someone with cataracts

While some individuals are born with cataracts, and others simply obtain them through natural aging, additional risk for factors for developing cataracts including[2]

  • Certain diseases such as diabetes.
  • Trauma
  • Obesity
  • Health behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use.
  • The environment such as prolonged exposure to sunlight.

The most common symptoms of a cataract are[3]:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Colors seem faded or yellowed
  • Seeing “halos” around  headlights, lamps, or sunlight
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye
  • Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses

The treatment of cataracts is based on the level of visual impairment caused. If a cataract affects vision only a little, or not at all, no treatment may be needed.  The symptoms of early cataracts may be improved with[4]:

  • New eyeglasses
  • Brighter Lighting
  • Anti-Glare Sunglasses
  • Magnifying Lenses

To delay the development of cataracts:When a cataract progresses to the point that it affects a person’s ability to do normal everyday tasks, surgery may be needed. Cataract removal is one of the safest and most common types of surgery in the US. Most people who have cataract surgery have better vision afterward.

  • Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Practice good nutrition such as eating green leafy vegetables, fruit, and other foods with antioxidants.

[1] Centers for Disease control – 2015

[2] Mayo Clinic Online – 2016

[3] Mayo Clinic Online – 2016

[4] NIH – 2009