Helping You See Better: June is Cataract Awareness Month

Helping You See Better: June is Cataract Awareness Month

Presently, cataracts are considered the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.  24 million Americans, over the age of 40 are affected by cataracts.  This June, Optos joins Prevent Blindness America in observing Cataract Awareness Month to aid in the education surrounding cataracts, and what you should know.

What are Cataracts?

Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens refracts light rays that come into the eye to help us see. The lens should be clear, like the top lens in the illustration.
With the presence of cataracts, the lens has become cloudy, much like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.

Vision changes you may notice if you have a cataract:

  • Having blurry vision
  • Seeing double
  • Extra sensitive to light
  • Having trouble seeing well at night, or needing more light while reading
  • Seeing bright colors as faded or yellow instead

What Causes Cataracts?

Exact causes of a cataract are unknown, most often they are a part of getting older.  There are some key possible risk factors that have been identified in those at risk, such as:

  • Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes
  • Inflammation in the eye
  • Hereditary influences
  • Long-term steroid use
  • Eye injuries
  • Eye diseases
  • Smoking

There are three different types of cataracts, named according to their locations:

  • Nuclear cataracts grow in the nucleus (inner core) of the eye’s lens. This is the most common type of cataract associated with aging.
  • Cortical cataracts develop in the cortex (outer section of the lens).
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts form toward the back of a cellophane-like capsule that surrounds the lens. These are most common in people who are diabetic, overweight or taking steroids.

Cataracts can also be classified by cause:

  • Age-related cataracts form as result of aging.
  • Congenital cataracts occur in babies who are born with cataracts as a result of an infection, injury or poor development before birth. They can also develop during childhood.
  • Secondary cataracts are a result of other medical conditions, such as diabetes, or exposure to toxic substances, certain drugs (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light or radiation.
  • Traumatic cataracts develop as the result of an injury to the eye.

pre-surgical cataract exam; optomap imaging (color and sensory view) reveals early Diabetic Retinopathy evident as multiple dot hemorrhages

Cataracts usually form in both eyes, but not at the same rate. They can develop slowly or quickly, or progress to a certain point, then not get any worse. As a result, one may not notice substantial changes in their sight.   Sometimes they can significantly precede symptoms and can be so subtle as to go unnoticed without a comprehensive eye exam.

As the U.S. population ages, more than 30 million Americans are expected to have cataracts by the year 2020.  optomap technology is being increasingly utilized in cataract surgery clinics for immediate views of the retina.  optomap images have also proven useful in the process of education patients about their conditions.  The ultra-widefield view can be captured through problematic, hazy media, where white light has difficulty, revealing any retinal issues that might be a concern prior to surgery, as well as, following surgery. The ability to quickly and easily observe and document retinal health before and after cataract surgery provides both the patient and practitioner a tremendous peace of mind.

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