June is Cataract Awareness month. Did you know that cataracts are the most commonly occurring source of loss of vision among adults aged 55 and older? Actually, more than fifty percent of all North Americans who are 65 and older have some degree of cataract development. As stated by the National Eye Institute, by the time they reach 80 years old, in excess of 50% of all Americans will have either had cataract surgery, or will have a cataract.
So what exactly is a cataract? A cataract is a fogging of the lens; one which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. In the interior part of the eye, the lens is contained in a sort of sac or capsule. As soon as more mature cells break down, they become caught inside the capsule. As time goes on, a large amount of cells cease to function and accrue, and this causes the lens to cloud, which makes eyesight fuzzy or unclear. When it comes to most people, cataracts are a natural side effect of older age. Additional risk factors for developing a cataract include intense heat or extended exposure to the sun's UV rays, diabetes, obesity, steroid use, smoking and eye injuries.
In the initial stages of cataract development, more efficient lights and eyeglasses may be used to minimize the vision problems you may have begun to notice. At a certain point, however, cataract surgery may be needed to help your vision. More than 90% of patients who have cataract surgery regain strong sight.
If you are at risk for developing cataracts and noticing low vision symptoms, call our office to discuss cataracts with your eye care professional. The prognosis for cataracts is excellent, and we know you want to have good vision throughout your later years.