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Three Million Cataract Surgeries Performed Each Year

 

Almost everyone will develop cataracts with age.

Approximately 25 million Americans have cataracts, which cause cloudy, blurry or dim vision and often develop with advancing age. The American Academy of Ophthalmology observed Cataract Awareness Month this year by sharing information everyone should know about the condition and its treatment.

As everyone grows older, the lenses of their eyes thicken and become cloudier. Eventually, they may find it more difficult to read street signs. Colors may seem dull. These symptoms may signal cataracts, which affect about 70% of people by age 75. Fortunately, cataracts can be corrected with surgery. Ophthalmologists, physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care, perform about three million cataract surgeries each year to restore vision to those patients.

Though most everyone will develop cataracts with age, recent studies show that lifestyle and behavior can influence when and how severely you develop cataracts. Diabetes, extensive exposure to sunlight, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and certain ethnicities have all been linked to increased risk of cataracts. Eye injuries, prior eye surgery and long-term use of steroid medication can also result in cataracts. If you have any of these or other risk factors, talk to an ophthalmologist.

Cataracts cannot be prevented, but you can lower your risk. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and brimmed hats when outside can help. Several studies suggest that eating more vitamin C-rich foods may delay how fast cataracts form. Also, avoid smoking cigarettes, which have been shown to increase the risk of cataract development.

Surgery may help improve more than just your vision. During the procedure, the natural clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens, or IOL, which should improve your vision significantly. Patients have a variety of lenses to choose from, each with different benefits. Studies have shown that cataract surgery can improve quality of life and reduce the risk of falling. If cataracts are interfering with your ability to see well, consider asking your ophthalmologist about cataract surgery.

"People often don't realize the huge quality of life benefits of cataract surgery," said Ravi D. Goel, M.D., cataract surgeon and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "After having cataract surgery, many of my patients say they wish they hadn't waited so long."

For more information about cataract symptoms, treatment and types of IOLs, visit http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts.

Seniors concerned that they may have cataracts may qualify for a no-cost eye exam through EyeCare America, a public service program of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. EyeCare America offers eye exams and care at no out-of-pocket cost for eligible seniors age 65 and older. For more information, visit http://www.aao.org/eyecare-america.

 

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