Did you know that cataract is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States? The longer cataracts are left untreated, the more difficult it can be to successfully remove the cataract and restore vision. During Cataract Awareness Month in June, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) along with Dr. Stewart Shofner shares the importance of a comprehensive eye exam for early detection and treatment to help patients preserve their eyesight.
What is a cataract?
With over 24 million Americans living with a cataract, this eye disease is known as the primary cause of blindness in the world. Cataracts are a degenerative eye disease in which the eye’s lens gradually becomes 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.
“Some patients become discouraged after being diagnosed with a cataract,” says Dr. Shofner. I reassure my patients that cataract surgery is the most effective and most common procedure performed in all of medicine. Over 3 million Americans annually choose to have cataract surgery, and an overall success rate of 97 percent or higher when performed in appropriate settings.
How do you know if you have a cataract?
Cataracts often develop slowly and painlessly, so vision and lifestyle can be affected without a person realizing it. The most common cause of cataracts is age, and they have become one of the leading causes of blindness among adults ages 40 and over in the United States. Generally, a cataract does not cause pain, redness or tears. However, if you look at something that no longer appears as crisp, clear, or colorful as they used to be or if items appear cloudy and blurry, it could be early signs of a cataract.
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.
Risk factors for cataract development include the following:
Worldwide, cataracts are the number one cause of preventable blindness. There is no medical treatment to prevent the development or progression of cataracts. Modern cataract surgery, which is the removal of the cloudy lens and implantation of a clear intraocular lens (IOL), is the only definitive treatment for cataracts. 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.