Wellness

Do You Have Cataracts?

Recognizing National Cataract Awareness Month, August 2011

Cataracts

We’ve all heard of cataracts and it seems that many Americans have them, so is it inevitable that you’ll experience them as you age?  Not necessarily, report medical professionals. Review the following information to learn more about cataracts.

Cataract Facts

  • A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images
  • There are two types of cataracts – Age-related (appearing later in life) and congenital (developed in early childhood)
  • Cataracts affect many people  – About 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts; health professionals believe more than 30.1 million people will be diagnosed with at least one cataract within the next 20 years
  • At least 50 percent of Americans are diagnosed with cataracts by age 80
  • Cataracts develop in one or both eyes; if in both eyes, one will be more severely affected than the other
  • No medications or exercises are available to prevent the formation or slow the progression of cataracts or make them disappear

Cataract Symptoms

Initially when a cataract forms, you may detect a slight haziness in your vision. Over time, you may notice some other changes:

  • Clouded, blurry or dim vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Sensitivity to light or glare
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to have your vision evaluated.

Cataract Causes
Based on extensive research, medical researchers believe the following health issues may increase the possibility of developing cataracts:

  • Aging
  • Family history of cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Exposure to bright sunlight over time
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids
  • Previous eye injuries or inflammation
  • Exposure to lead or radiation
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

While several risk factors are unavoidable, lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the development of cataracts. Research also indicates that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can be effective in preventing cataracts.

Treatment Options
If you do develop a cataract, using brighter lights may help improve your vision in the early stages, but eventually you may need surgery to correct the problem. With more than 1.6 million cataract procedures performed annually, it is one of the safest and most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States.

If you, or someone you know, have had cataracts, what were the preliminary symptoms and what treatment solutions were followed? – Scott Delisi, Ameritas Group

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