June is Cataract Awareness Month


By Mark Siegel, MD, FAAO

Throughout the month of June, Sea Island Ophthalmology would like to help people become more aware of the serious eye disease of cataracts. There are about 22 million Americans aged 40 and older who suffer with cataracts, and more than half the people over age 65 have some degree of cataract development. Cataracts are now the leading cause of blindness among adults over 55 years of age.

Moreover, a study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston indicates that seniors suffering from poor vision have shown evidence of a premature mental decline.

Additionally, a study found that patients who received cataract surgery had a significantly reduced rate of hip fractures from falls.

The results of these studies clearly bring to light the importance of routine eye care for older adults, who are at increased risk of eye conditions that cause severe visual impairment such as cataracts.

The good news is that vision loss caused by cataracts can be easily treated. Cataract surgery is now one of the most commonly performed procedures in the United States and has a 99 percent success rate. This is why ophthalmologists recommend scheduling a yearly eye exam for all those who might be at risk.

The Symptoms

Cataracts can cause a variety of symptoms or signs. One common symptom is often compared to looking through a dirty car windshield or a smeared camera lens. Other symptoms may include:

• Blurred vision

• Difficulties reading or driving at night

• Difficulty with glare (such as a bright sun or automobile headlights)

• Dull color vision

• Increased nearsightedness (with frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions)

• Occasional double vision in one eye.

The Diagnosis

Cataracts can be detected during a thorough eye examination. The doctor can see the affected lens in your eye while performing a variety of tests using specialized viewing instruments.

By selecting the appropriate tests, the doctor will be able to determine how much a cataract might be affecting your vision. The doctor will also perform a thorough examination of the eye to ensure any vision loss is not due to other eye problems, such as diabetes, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.

The Treatment

Some cataracts never progress to the point where they require treatment, while others progress more rapidly. Cataracts commonly affect both eyes, but it is not uncommon for a cataract in one eye to advance more rapidly than one in the other. Surgery is generally recommended for those who experience detectable vision loss.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cataracts, please request an appointment for your cataract surgery consultation.

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