Understanding Cataracts Pt I – May is Cataract Awareness Month
May is National Cataract Awareness Month, so this is the perfect time to brush up on the basics of one of the most common vision problems in America, and the treatment options available. When a cataract develops, the lens in your eye, which focuses light, becomes cloudy, causing diminished vision over time. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, three million Americans choose to have cataract surgery each year – making it the most widely performed surgery in any branch of medicine in the United States.
Why is the Lens Important in Understanding Cataracts?
The lens is a clear structure inside of the eye that helps to focus light onto the retina – which is located at the back of the eye. Normally, the light passes through the lens to the retina.
The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If you have a cataract, the lens is cloudy – which makes your vision blurred and dull.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Cataracts
One of the challenges in identifying cataracts is that they typically develop slowly without causing pain, so it’s easy for patients to mistake cataract symptoms for other vision problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Cataracts are most often caused by the aging process, but can also be caused traumatic eye injuries and certain medical conditions like diabetes.
Early cataract symptoms include:
- Difficulty reading in low light
- Blurred vision
- Diminished night vision
- Halos around light
Unlike most other vision problems, cataracts tend to affect your vision at all distances, rather than just near or far vision.
Patients with cataracts may require frequent changes in vision prescription strength without finding a sustainable solution, one of the major symptoms that set cataracts apart from other vision problems. Left untreated, cataracts will continue to progress over time. The good news is that cataract surgery is very effective, so early detection is key. Raising awareness really does make a difference!
Cataract Surgery Options
In Pt 2 of this “Understanding Cataracts” series, we will discuss the latest cataract surgery options, titled, “Understanding Cataract Treatments”, such as the latest options for a replacement lens (IOL), and laser cataract surgery to correct astigmatism or presbyopia.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts or would like to receive more information regarding cataracts, contact Atlantic Eye to schedule an evaluation.