Cataract Awareness Month is an annual campaign in the United States designed to raise awareness of cataracts and encourage people to get yearly exams to help prevent cataracts.

Cataracts are a common eye disease that develops over time, often with no symptoms or pain at first. The good news is that they can be treated with surgery, but it’s essential to know the risks so you can make informed decisions about your care. This blog post will walk you through what you need to know about cataracts and Cataract Awareness Month!

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 30 million Americans have cataracts making it one of the leading causes of blindness. With the increasing number of cataract patients, it has become crucial that we bring awareness about this disease and how to fight it.

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye that reduces vision. It can happen slowly or quickly, and many people don’t notice changes until they get to a very severe state. Cataracts cause the lenses of the eyes to become cloudy and, after some time, block the passage of light, making it hard to see clearly.

Cataracts are most common around age 65-75 years old, but younger adults can develop them too if there has been a family history.

How Cataracts Affect Vision

Depending on how advanced cataracts become, it may be impossible to see through a cataract. Cataracts generally start as blurred vision and difficulty with reading, watching television, and driving. And, unfortunately, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, with over 50 million people suffering from them.

What Causes Cataracts?

Aside from age and family history, other factors may cause cataracts. These factors can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Long-term use of steroid or statin medications
  • Excessive UV radiation
  • Eye injury
  • Eye inflammation

Can Cataracts Be Prevented?

Depending on your family history, your age, and other factors, cataracts may or may not be preventable. People at a high risk of developing cataracts due to their family history or previous eye injury can slow down the possibility of cataracts by making specific lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy foods and avoiding long periods in the sun without protection.

Treatment for Cataracts

Cataracts are treatable. Depending on the type of cataract, age, and other factors, treatment may vary.

After the eye doctor does their exam they will figure out what type of cataract you have and decide if surgery is necessary or if it can be treated with medication or glasses. 

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is very common and one of the safest surgeries. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 2 million people undergo the procedure each year.

Surgery is generally a rapid process, approximately 20 minutes, and is done in the optometrist office. They remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial clear intraocular lens.

After surgery, you should be able to go back to your routine within a couple of days.

After Surgery

If you have cataract surgery, be sure not to rub your eyes or swim for a few days to allow the incision on your eye time to heal. It is also crucial that you wear sunglasses to prevent serious injury after the surgery.

When was your last eye exam? Is it time to schedule your next eye exam with your eye doctor so that you can prevent cataracts before they start or get too bad?