Unfortunately YES. The National Eye Institute (NEI) reports 24 million Americans are affected by cataract and an estimated 38.7 million will be affected by cataract by 2030. Worldwide, cataracts are the number one cause of preventable blindness. “With early diagnosis, most cataracts can be removed and healthy vision is restored,” says Dr. Stewart Shofner.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. This degenerative eye disease causes the eye’s lens to gradually become opaque, causing vision to mist over. This happens because the proteins in the lens clump together and eventually form a cataract, which clouds vision. This cloudiness can cause a decrease in vision and may lead to eventual blindness if left untreated.
How do you know if you have a cataract?
The most efficient way to know if you have a cataract is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Your ophthalmologist will examine and test your eyes to make a cataract diagnosis. Your ophthalmologist will perform what is referred to as a slit-lamp exam to thoroughly examine your cornea, iris, lens and the other areas at the front of the eye. The special slit-lamp microscope makes it easier to spot abnormalities and signs of a cataract. Your ophthalmologist will also look for glaucoma, and examine the retina and optic nerve as well as the clarity of your vision.
What are common symptoms?
Cataracts often develop slowly with a gradual decline in vision that cannot be corrected with glasses. Common complaints include blurry vision, difficulty reading in dim light, poor vision at night, glare and halos around lights, and occasionally double vision. Other signs of cataracts include frequent changes in the prescription of glasses and a new ability to read without reading glasses in patients over 55.
Prevent Blindness has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month to educate the public on risk factors, symptoms and treatment options, including surgery. Free information is provided through its dedicated web page at prevent blindness.org/cataract, or via phone at (800) 331-2020.
Dr. Stewart Shofner has performed over 20,000 ocular surgeries and most all of his patients report having immediate improvement post-surgery. If you or a loved one is experiencing vision changes or impairment, contact your ophthalmologist or contact Shofner Vision Center online to schedule a comprehensive exam or call (615) 340-4733.