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June is Cataract Awareness Month

Is it time to get your vision checked?

According to Prevent Blindness America, founders of Cataract Awareness Month, it is estimated that 22.3 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts, a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. In fact, cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. Unfortunately, most people over 65 have some degree of cataract development.

Although cataracts are not always preventable, they are very treatable with cataract surgery. Once the cataracts begin restricting your activities or decreasing your ability to participate in normal activities, such as reading, working or driving, it’s time to talk to us about your vision.

Keep in mind, the presence of cataracts has been compared to looking through a foggy windshield. There is a strong correlation between untreated cataracts and an increased risk of automotive driver crashes, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision, decreased vision at night, “halos” around lights, and needing more light to read. Since the symptoms of cataracts are similar to other eye problems, it’s important to see your eye doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.

“As a cataract develops, the lens becomes cloudy, causing your vision to be blurry. You might not notice the clouding at the beginning, but as it progresses, your vision can be severely impaired,” explained Dr. Allen Zieker, a cataract surgeon at Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region.

“You can reduce your risk of getting cataracts by wearing UV sunglasses and managing your blood sugar and hypertension. It’s also beneficial to eat healthy and take vitamins specifically formulated for vision,” said Dr. Allen Zieker.  “Last, but not least, be sure to get your eyes checked every year.”

Age is the most common cause of cataracts.

Other factors can cause cataracts to form, even in young people, such as:

– Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
– Exposure to radiation
– Eye infections and/or injuries
– Extended use of certain medications
– Conditions such as obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure

“Cataract surgery has come a long way in the last several years,” explained Dr. Allen Zieker. “Advancement in techniques and technology has shortened recovery time for most patients. And research indicates that cataract surgery is one of the safest surgical procedures performed in the United States.”