There are currently more than 24 million Americans ages 40 and older who have cataracts, according to the Vision Problems in the U.S. report from Prevent Blindness America. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens that blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. Unlike many eye diseases, however, vision loss due to a cataract can be restored — cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the United States and has a 95 percent success rate. Additionally, a recent study found that cataract surgery patients had a significantly reduced rate of hip fractures from falls.
As a means of educating more people about cataracts, June has been designated as Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts generally do not cause pain, redness or tears. However, these changes in your vision may be signs of having a cataract:
- Blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, the sense of a “film” over the eyes.
- Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work, or you are “dazzled” by strong light.
- Changing eyeglass prescriptions often. The change may not seem to help your vision.
- You may sometimes notice the cataract in your eye. It may look like a milky or yellowish spot in the pupil (the center of the eye is normally black).
“Although getting a cataract is common, it doesn’t have to mean permanent vision loss,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “One way to protect our vision is to make a commitment to take care of our eyes today, including getting a dilated eye exam, so we can help protect our sight for the future not just from a cataract, but from other eye diseases as well.”
For free information on cataracts, including Medicare coverage, call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or log on to preventblindness.org/cataract.