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Keeping an Eye on Cataracts

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Cataracts affect millions of people nationwide and as the population continues to age, the numbers keep going up. The good news is, cataracts are often manageable and treatable.

As June is Cataract Awareness Month, here are some facts you should know to help you recognize cataracts and prevent vision loss. 

  1. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, which inhibits the passage of light rays into the eye and results in blurred  vision.  The lens is what helps to focus an image onto the retina, which transmits the images to the brain.
  2. Cataracts usually develop as a result of the aging process and usually occurs in one or both eyes.
  3.  Other risk factors for developing cataracts include:  long-term exposure to UV light from the sun, certain health conditions (e.g. diabetes), genetic predisposition, eye injuries, eye inflammation, long-term steroid use and other medications, and smoking.
  4. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among people 55 and older.  Over half the population above the age 65 has some degree of cataract development.
  5. By the age of 80,  most people will have developed a cataract or had surgery to remove it.
  6. During the early stages of cataract development, you can use stronger lighting and glasses.  Special lens coatings can also reduce glare.  At a certain point, cataract surgery is required to improve your vision.  
  7. Cataract surgery is very common and involves the removal of the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear lens made from plastic, called an intraocular lens (IOL). New developments in IOLs are constantly being researched to make the surgery even less complicated and more successful.
  8. Over 90 percent of people who have cataract surgery regain useful vision. Consult with Dr. Stanfield or Dr. Turner to get information about the pros and cons, alternatives and expected results of cataract surgery.
  9. The key to preventing permanent vision loss is regular eye exams. If you are 40 or over, you should have a yearly eye exam, even if you feel your vision is good.

While cataracts are a natural part of maturing, it is vital to ensure that you care for your eyes your entire life. Again, make sure that you have an exam at least once a year. This will ensure you are examined for cataract development and for other eye and vision problems and will also help to maintain your overall eye health. 

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