Did you know that June is Cataract Awareness Month? What a great time to shed light on this ocular condition and provide education going forward all year round to people about what a cataract is, as well as cataract risk factors, symptoms, and cataract surgery. Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, so the more we share and educate, the more we enhance the likelihood that we can help reduce cataracts’ impact on world sight.
Cataracts occur when the normally clear lens in the eye becomes cloudy. The cloudiness changes how light passes into the eye, or blocks the light entering the eye altogether. Cataracts can vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable reduction in vision. Cataracts happen to almost everyone as they age, and are most often found in those over 60. If a child is born with a cataract, it is referred to as a congenital cataract. Cataracts can develop slowly over many years or they can form rapidly in a matter of months. They develop without pain or redness to the eye. A comprehensive eye exam with your Doctor of Optometry can determine if you have cataracts. Risk factors for cataract development include age, long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun, certain diseases such as diabetes, long-term steroid use, eye injuries, and smoking.
Sounds a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! You have the power. While it’s not presently known how to fully prevent cataracts, you can slow their growth by wearing sunglasses that protect you from UV rays every time you’re outside. Eating foods rich in antioxidants also helps tremendously. You can select from these delicious cataract delaying options: red beans, blueberries, pecans, red berries such as cranberries, raspberries and strawberries, prunes, apples, artichokes, and dark leafy greens. Yum! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, quitting smoking, and tightly controlling your blood-sugar levels all help delay of developing cataracts. And last, but certainly not least, is attending your routine eye exam so you can stay on top of managing your ocular health.
Should you develop cataracts, your Doctor of Optometry is ready and there for you with the best ocular care. When cataracts are in the very early stages of development, there is minimal effect on your vision. Your optometrist can prescribe new lenses for your glasses to ensure the sharpest vision during this season of your ocular health. When glasses no longer improve vision and cataracts start to interfere with daily activities your optometrist can refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) who can remove your cataracts. Your optometrist will partner with your ophthalmologist to give you comprehensive treatment before and after surgery.
Did you know that cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the world? The procedure is very safe, quick (usually only about 10 minutes per eye), and effective and involves removing the cloudy lens from the eye and replacing it with a clear implant. You can also address other vision concerns with cataract surgery as well. Once recovered from surgery, at about 4-6 weeks, your optometrist will let you know if you need any glasses to maintain your best vision.
Ready to get those eyes checked? Book with us now, we’re here to help. In the meantime, pop on your shades when outside and enjoy a delicious antioxidant-rich salad for lunch. Your eyes will thank you!