Cataracts, the number one cause of blindness worldwide, affect an estimated 24 million Americans 40 and older.
The good news is that cataracts can be removed and cataract surgery has a 95% success rate. It is one of the most commonly performed operations in the Unites States and in addition to giving people their eyesight back, it has been proven to lower the risk of fall-related hip injuries.
According to the organization preventblindness.org, cataracts are caused by:
- Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes
- Inflammation in the eye
- Hereditary influences
- Events before birth, such as German measles in the mother
- Long-term steroid use
- Eye injuries
- Eye diseases
Blurry vision, double vision, seeing phantom images, or feeling like there is a film over your vision, being blinded by bright light, or feeling as though it is too dark to read are all common symptoms of cataracts. You can sometimes see your cataract as a milky or yellowish spot over your pupil, which would normally be clear black.
Cataracts are most common among older individuals, because the cells in the eye that replenish it are not able to leave the eye as you get older. Thus, they build up in a cloudy residue over the lens.
Even though they are manageable and potentially curable, it is important to take good care of your eyes your whole life in order to prevent cataracts later on. That means getting eye exams every year or every other year. It’s especially important to have dilated exams to check for developing cataracts.