Cataract Awareness

June is Cataract Awareness Month and in this episode of Health Happens, our weekly Facebook Live show, we talked with Bill Richheimer, MD, an ophthalmologist from the Mile High Eye Institute, about what cataracts are, how they’re treated and if you can prevent them.

According to Dr. Richheimer, cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye, which prevents the passage of light into the eye. Cloudiness is a side effect of cataract and can impact a small area of the eye’s lens. As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light passing through the lens. This may lead to more noticeable symptoms.

He says that most people will develop cataracts. Many do not show symptoms of cataracts until at least the age of 40, but it can affect young adults and children. Heredity, disease, eye injury and smoking are all factors that can cause cataracts to develop at an earlier age. 

Unfortunately, there is no proven way to prevent cataracts, but choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow the progression of early-onset cataracts. Other ways to delay the progression of cataracts include; avoiding smoking, reducing exposure to UV rays, eating healthy foods, and wearing proper eye protection to prevent eye injury.

It is important to regularly see your eye doctor. Eye doctors can diagnose cataracts with a general eye exam. Typically, your eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes to find problems with the lens and other parts of the eye. 

How Do You Treat Cataracts?

If you have cataracts, there are treatments available. According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year. With a success rate of 98 percent or higher, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective procedures. Moreover, the procedure typically takes about 15 minutes and you can do it at an outpatient surgery center. If left untreated, cataracts will continue to become worse over time, causing vision loss. 

To watch the full Health Happens episode on cataracts, click here.

This post was written by 9Health Fair intern Kylie Fogo.

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