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Celebrate Cataract Awareness Month with EyeCare Associates

June is Cataract Awareness Month, a time when optometrists and ophthalmologists across the nation come together to raise awareness about cataracts. You might have heard of this condition before, or perhaps you know someone who has dealt with it. However, many people are unfamiliar with the specifics of this widespread eye condition and the available treatments.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cataracts are the leading cause of blindness globally, responsible for over half of all cases. In the United States, nearly 25 million individuals over 40 years old are affected by cataracts. This condition can significantly reduce the quality of life, often necessitating changes to daily routines due to vision impairment. Despite these challenges, there is good news.

Cataracts are highly treatable. That being said, the best defense against living with cataract complications is arming yourself with knowledge of the condition. That’s why, in honor of Cataract Awareness Month, the experts at EyeCare Associates have put together this nifty guide on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for cataracts. Join us in our mission to help you and others achieve clear, healthy vision.

Understanding Cataracts

To comprehend how cataracts develop, it's helpful to understand a bit about eye anatomy. Inside your eye is a transparent, flexible lens that focuses light on the retina, creating images for your brain. This lens comprises collagen and proteins, with proteins being the primary component.

As we age, these proteins break down and clump together, causing the lens to become cloudy. Over time, this cloudiness increases, eventually obstructing vision. This process can make the pupils appear cloudy or milky. Since cataracts result from aging, most people will develop them after 40. Once the vision is compromised, surgery is the only solution to restore clear vision.

Causes of Cataracts

Beyond natural aging, several health conditions can accelerate cataract formation or lead to more severe cases. These include diabetes, prolonged steroid use, obesity, significant alcohol consumption, excessive sunlight exposure, smoking, previous eye surgeries or injuries, and genetic factors.

While complete prevention of cataracts is impossible, adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking or excessive drinking can significantly reduce the risk.

Types of Cataracts

There are five different types categorized by their location and the age at which they form. These are Nuclear, Cortical, Posterior Subcapsular, Congenital, and Secondary.

Nuclear cataracts develop in the center of the lens. Over time, they may turn yellowish or brown, further reducing vision.

Cortical cataracts form on the lens's edges, appearing as white streaks or wedges. They gradually spread towards the center, obstructing vision.

Posterior subcapsular cataracts form at the back of the lens, quickly impairing vision. These are common in patients with diabetes or people who have been prescribed steroids for inflammation.

Congenital cataracts are present at birth or develop in early childhood, often due to genetic factors, infections, or eye injuries. Early detection and removal are crucial to prevent visual development issues.

Secondary cataracts are complications from cataract surgery, where scar tissue causes the lens capsule to become cloudy. This condition is typically treated with a quick, outpatient laser procedure.

For more details on cataract types, their formation, and symptoms, visit our comprehensive guide.

When to Consult an Eye Doctor About Cataracts

When to consult your eye doctor about your cataracts typically depends on how much they interfere with daily activities. If a small cortical cataract isn't affecting vision or causing glare, it may be safe to monitor it without resorting to surgical intervention.

However, certain symptoms indicate it’s time to consult an eye doctor for possible surgery:

  • Seeing colors as yellowish or faded

  • Poor color vision in general

  • Difficulty with night driving

  • Shadowing of your vision

  • Glare or halos around lights

  • Difficulty seeing in low light

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact EyeCare Associates to schedule a consultation.

Cataract Treatment Options

Once cataracts fully develop, surgery is the only treatment option. During the procedure, the doctor makes a small incision on the part of your eye where the clear cornea meets the white. A probe is used to break up the clouded natural lens and is vacuumed out. An artificial lens is inserted through the same small incision and will perform the identical job as your natural lens. Your cornea is sealed up, and the healing process begins. There are no shots or sutures, only a few eyedrops!

The procedure typically takes about 10 minutes. For patients with cataracts in both eyes, surgeries are performed a few weeks apart to ensure proper healing. Recovery varies, but most patients resume normal activities within a day or two. For more information on our surgical procedures, visit our Cataract Treatment page.

Schedule a Cataract Consultation at EyeCare Associates

With Cataract Awareness Month in full swing, now is an ideal time to book a consultation. If you or a loved one experiences cataract symptoms, it’s important to seek professional care. Our experienced doctors use advanced diagnostic technologies to identify and treat cataracts effectively. Early detection increases your treatment options, so don’t delay.

With 31 eye care offices across the state of Alabama, we’re only ever a call or click away. Find an EyeCare Associates office near you and start your journey to clearer, healthier vision today!

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