Seeing Cataracts Clearly

Cataract Awareness Month highlights surgery as successful treatment option

(RxWiki News) Most people may not know that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Fortunately, this clouding of the eye's lens can be cured by simple surgery.

Cataract Awareness Month is being celebrated during June.

Efforts are being made to educate the public about rates of this common condition and about the success of surgery to treat it.

"Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes."

Cataracts, or clouding in the eye’s lens that interferes with vision, are commonly associated with aging. The National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that by 80 years old, over half of Americans either have a cataract or have previously had cataract surgery.

However, the disease can strike at any age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that 20.5 million Americans 40 years of age or older (17.2 percent of this age group) have cataracts in one or both eyes. 

It is also estimated that by 2020, the total number of people with cataracts will have increased to over 30 million.

This vision problem develops as protein in the eye’s lens clumps together and cloud a small portion of the lens. The cataract can increase in size and seeing can become more and more difficult over time.

For many patients, measures like special eyeglass lenses may help, and sometimes surgery is required to replace the clouded lens with an artificial one.

Christopher Quinn, OD, FAAO (Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry), told dailyRx News, “Cataract surgery is one of the most common and successful operations performed in the country today. In the hands of a skilled ophthalmic surgeon, the results are phenomenal, restoring good sight to millions of patients each year.”

Dr. Quinn also noted that techniques and technologies for cataract surgery are continually evolving and improving.

“Most recently, femtosecond lasers have become available to assist in performing cataract surgery,” said Dr. Quinn. “The use of lasers in performing cataract surgery is allowing for an unprecedented level of safety and accuracy to what is already an excellent procedure.”

However, the CDC noted, “Although treatment for the removal of cataract is widely available, access barriers such as insurance coverage, treatment costs, patient choice, or lack of awareness prevent many people from receiving the proper treatment.”

The NEI suggests that people experiencing visual symptoms like clouded vision, glare around lights, faded colors, double vision or trouble seeing at night visit an eye care professional for an exam.

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Review Date: 
June 5, 2013