(RxWiki News) With August being Cataract Awareness Month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is telling senior citizens to look out for signs of cataracts.
Normally, the lens of the eye is clear. With cataracts, however, the lens becomes clouded, which affects a patient's vision. Symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision, dull color vision and seeing halos (circles) around lights.
Currently, over 24 million adults in the US age 40 and older have cataracts. People at an increased risk for developing cataracts include older individuals, those with a family history of cataracts, people with diabetes and people who smoke.
"Speak to your doctor if you have trouble seeing clearly."
Cataracts can usually be treated with surgery where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens. According to the AAO, however, many older individuals do not seek treatment because they believe that vision loss is a part of getting older. Leaving cataracts untreated can cause more eye damage, can lead to serious physical injury and may also make it harder to successfully treat the disease.
While no studies have proven that cataracts can be prevented, doctors think there may be ways to reduce your chance of developing cataracts. Some strategies include getting regular eye exams, wearing sunglasses, eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight.
Seniors aged 65 and older are urged to get regular eye exams to check for cataracts, as well as other eye diseases including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration typically occurs in people over 50, and happens when the part of the eye that is used for central vision begins to break down.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is what connects the retina to the brain.
If the cost of eye care is an issue, there is a public service program, called EyeCare America, that offers eye exams and eye care at no cost to qualifying seniors age 65 and older.