Focusing on Cataracts

Recognizing National Cataract Awareness Month


Cataract surgery is one of the most common outpatient surgical procedures in the United States, and it only takes about 30 minutes. This procedure is characterized as relatively painless, does not require stitches, and most individuals report complete healing within two to six weeks. Best of all, patients usually experience improved vision immediately after surgery!


What is a cataract? Medical professionals describe cataracts as a clouding of the natural lens, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that cataracts are forming on their eyes because they develop gradually over time without causing any pain or discomfort. For some individuals, cataracts cause diminished sight. But for others, their vision is severely affected so they see only light and dark and not specific shapes and images.

Cataracts usually are identified by an eye doctor during a routine eye exam. More than 22 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts, with an estimated 30 million projected to be diagnosed by 2020.

Detecting Cataracts

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.

Recognizing Causes
After 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 consuming fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants may help prevent the development of cataracts.

If you would like to learn more, read this.