Initiated by the Prevent Blindness organization, Cataract Awareness Month aims to educate the public on cataracts and mitigate their associated adverse effects on eye health. This article will do just that, providing information on cataracts and ways to help prevent them.
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Cataracts are very common as you get older. In fact, more than half of all Americans age 80 or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts.
At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. But over time, cataracts can make your vision blurry, hazy, or less colorful. You may have trouble reading or doing other everyday activities.
The good news is that surgery can get rid of cataracts. Cataract surgery is safe and corrects vision problems caused by cataracts.
What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
You might not have any symptoms at first, when cataracts are mild. But as cataracts grow, they can cause changes in your vision. For example, you may notice that:
- Your vision is cloudy or blurry
- Colors look faded
- You can’t see well at night
- Lamps, sunlight, or headlights seem too bright
- You see a halo around lights
- You see double (this sometimes goes away as the cataract gets bigger)
- You have to change the prescription for your glasses often
These symptoms can be a sign of other eye problems, too. Be sure to talk to your eye doctor if you have any of these problems.
Over time, cataracts can lead to vision loss.
Am I At Risk for Cataracts?
Your risk for cataracts goes up as you get older. You’re also at higher risk if you:
- Have certain health problems, like diabetes
- Drink too much alcohol
- Have a family history of cataracts
- Have had an eye injury, eye surgery, or radiation treatment on your upper body
- Have spent a lot of time in the sun
- Take steroids (medicines used to treat a variety of health problems, like arthritis and rashes)
If you’re worried you might be at risk for cataracts, talk with your doctor. Ask if there is anything you can do to lower your risk.
There are several actions you can take to help prevent cataracts.
- Wearing sunglasses with 100% UVA-UVB protection
- Eat leafy greens, including:
- Collard greens
- After age 60, it is recommended that you get dilated eye exams every two years