Dubbed Cataracts Awareness Month by the Academy of Ophthalmology, we are going to break down everything you need to know about cataracts, how to slow progression, and more.
What are cataracts?
A cataract clouds the normally clear lens within your eyes. For people with cataracts, seeing through a clouded lens is a bit like looking through a frosted or fogged-up window.
What causes cataracts?
Cataracts are very common and part of the natural aging process, and typically starts happening at age 40 when the proteins in your lens start to break down. At around age 60, people can start to have visible clouding of the lens. This is also when symptoms can increase in severity, but may not happen until years later. There are other risk factors for developing cataracts, such as:
- It is in your DNA (having family members with cataracts)
- Certain medical problems, for example, if you have diabetes
- Previous eye injuries, eye surgeries, or radiation treatments on the upper body area
- Spending excessive time in the sun, subjecting your eyes to harmful UV rays without proper eye protection
- Certain medications such as corticosteroids
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts can change your vision. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may have cataracts:
- Blurry vision
- Seeing double
- Extra light sensitivity
- Difficulty seeing well at night
- Need additional light when you read
- Seeing bright colors as faded or having more of a yellow tone
If you notice any of these cataract symptoms, notify your ophthalmologist.
Can I slow down the development of cataracts?
Studies have shown that you can slow the development of cataracts by simply protecting your eyes from the sun. You can do this by wearing sunglasses that block out ultraviolet (UV) rays. You can talk to your eye doctor, but you may also wear glasses that have a clear coating that blocks UV.
I was diagnosed with cataracts. What do I do now?
If you have been diagnosed with cataracts, we are here to help you each step of the way. Here are a few things to consider:
- If you are older than 65, you should schedule an eye exam every year
- Block UV rays and block out harmful rays by wearing protective sunglasses and a hat (there are sunglasses that block at least 99 percent UV)
- Quit smoking, if you are a smoker. Smoking is a known risk factor for cataracts
- Use bright lights if you read
- Get a magnifying glass (which can be ordered on Amazon or found at your local CVS or Walgreens)
- If night vision, halos, or glare impact your vision, limit driving at night
- Get eyeglasses or contact lenses
- If it gets difficult to continue in your regular/day-to-day activities, consider cataract surgery
- Get informed about cataract surgery. Talk to your ophthalmologist about:
- the surgery
- preparing for the surgery
- recovering after the surgery
- benefits of the surgery and all possible complications of the surgery
- other questions you have
If you have any questions about cataracts, symptoms, surgery, or anything else, let us know! Ready to schedule an appointment? You request an eye care appointment by clicking here.