June is Cataract Awareness Month. According to the National Eye Institute, the risk of developing a cataract increases with each decade of life starting at about age 40. By age 75, half of all white Americans have cataracts, which increases to 70% by age 80. In comparison, 53% of blacks and 61% of Hispanic Americans have cataracts by age 80. By 2050, the number of people in the U.S. with cataracts is expected to double from 24.4 million (in 2010) to about 50 million.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that affects vision. People with cataracts often describe having blurry or double vision, a strong glare or difficulty seeing at night. While it is possible to be born with a cataract, most cataracts are related to aging. Certain diseases or behaviors may also increase your risk of developing the condition, such as diabetes, smoking, alcohol use or extended sun exposure.
Though surgery is the only treatment available for removal, it is not typically necessary. However, cataracts can lead to additional eye problems, so it is important to consult your ophthalmologist if you are experiencing symptoms.
Make an Appointment
If you think you're suffering from an eye condition or would simply like an eye exam, we encourage you to call 215.762.EYES (3937) and schedule an appointment with a Drexel Eye Physician.
Know the Symptoms
Visual problems that may be associated with cataracts include:
- Being sensitive to glare
- Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy, or filmy vision
- Difficulty seeing at night or in dim light
- Double vision
- Loss of color intensity
- Problems seeing shapes against a background or the difference between shades of colors
- Seeing halos around lights
A standard eye exam and slit-lamp examination is used to diagnose cataracts.
Types of Cataracts
While most cataracts are age-related, it is important to also be familiar with the other types of cataracts that can develop:
- Secondary cataract – A cataract that develops after another disease or surgery, such as glaucoma, diabetes or even steroid use.
- Traumatic cataract – Caused by an injury to the eye, a traumatic cataract can sometimes develop years after the injury.
- Congenital cataract – A cataract present at birth or developed in early childhood, often in both eyes.
- Radiation cataract – A cataract that develops due to exposure to certain types of radiation.
Treatment for Cataracts
Early cataract symptoms can be easy to treat. New eyeglasses, better lighting, magnifying lenses and sunglasses are all simple ways to improve vision problems caused by cataracts. If these treatments do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment.
Cataract removal surgery is only necessary if the cataract symptoms affect normal activities such as driving, reading or looking at computer or video screens, even with glasses. Cataracts typically do not harm the eye, so waiting for a convenient time to have surgery is acceptable. Learn more about cataract surgery.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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