Cataract Awareness Month
08/10/2004

As the leading cause of blindness in the world, cataracts affect more than half of all Americans by the age of 80.

A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens, blocking the passage of light needed for vision. Cataracts are one of the most curable causes of vision loss, but according to the American Association of Ophthalmology (AAO), 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older are living with cataracts today.

Some common signs of cataracts include: painless blurring of vision, frequent prescription changes, glares and haloes, colors appearing dull and brownish, poor night vision, and both sensitivity to normal amounts of light and finding adequate light to be too dim.

Although cataracts can usually be attributed to age, other possible causes are: heredity, associated birth defects, chronic diseases like diabetes, excessive use of steroid medication and eye injury.

The AAO named August Cataract Awareness Month in order to help inform the public about what cataracts are, when they should be treated, and the procedures that can be used to restore good vision.

Although there are no medications for prevention or cure of cataracts, cataract surgery is very safe and effective, and is a procedure that all cataract patients should consider. The surgery can greatly increase your quality of life if cataracts are interfering with your daily activities.

Cataract surgery often can remedy the problem, and the effects of surgery will likely last many years. The surgery is usually done under local anesthesia, and involves removing the diseased lens and replacing it with a plastic intraocular lens. The surgeon will operate on one eye and allow it to heal before operating on the second.

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