A Clearer View

Latest treatment options and news about cataracts, dry eye syndrome and other eye care topics.

Cataract Awareness Month Shines Light on Leading Cause of Blindness

by Damion Wasylow 5 June 2019 07:17 AM

attractive elderly mother and adult daughter outside
More than 20 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts, a condition that can lead to blindness, but few people understand the causes, symptoms and available treatment options. That’s why Prevent Blindness America declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. By bringing attention to this devastating – yet curable – disorder, healthcare professionals and advocates hope more people will make smart eye health choices and seek treatment to restore their vision. 

What are cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens resulting from a build up of naturally occurring proteins. It prevents light from being properly focused onto the retina, causing visual impairment or even blindness. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes, and the damage is permanent, requiring surgery to correct.

What causes cataracts?

The primary cause of cataracts is aging. As we get older, the eye lens thickens, making it less transparent. By age 80, 50% of people have some level of cataract development. Cataracts can, however, develop much earlier in life. It’s even possible for babies to be born with cataracts. Genetics, over-exposure to sunlight, smoking, heavy alcohol use and certain medications can increase your risk. 

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

The most common cataract symptom is cloudy or blurred vision. It may only impact a small area of vision at first, but will eventually overtake the patient’s entire field of view. Double vision, light sensitivity, glare and halos are also common. The symptom most people associate with cataracts is lens discoloration. Cataracts can cause colors to dull or be distorted, as if there is a brown or yellow film over the eye.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

When cataract symptoms are identified, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will take a medical history and perform a series of eye tests to diagnose your cataracts. These tests often include a visual acuity test to identify signs of impairment, a slit-lamp test to detect tiny irregularities in the other structures at the front of your eye and a retinal exam to inspect the retina for signs of cataracts.

How are cataracts treated?

Surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts. The damaged lens must be surgically replaced with an artificial lens. Effective cataract surgery – whether traditional or laser-assisted – can permanently restore the patient’s vision. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safest medical procedures in the U.S. Approximately 3 million Americans per year have cataract surgery with 99.5% experiencing minor or no postoperative complications, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you or someone you love may have cataracts, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300 to schedule a consultation. We’ll evaluate your symptoms, diagnose the root cause and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you. Call us today.



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