Welcome to summer! While June is known for the start of the outdoor season for some, it has also been designated as Cataract Awareness Month in an effort to educate the public about related risks, symptoms, and treatments. As an Ophthalmology focused CRO, we understand the importance of disease-awareness, especially involving one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, and want to bring attention to this indication
We’ve compiled a short introduction to cataracts, which covers some general information about the disease. While information is available to the public regarding the symptoms, always seek out an eye care professional if you feel you are impacted by a cataract.
All medical content reviewed by our Drug Safety Associate Patience Biesiot, RN, BSN.
Cataract Risk Factors
In data reported by the National Eye Institute, it’s estimated that “by 2050, the number of people in the U.S. impacted by a cataract is expected to double from 24.4 million to about 50 million.” This possible increase highlights the importance of public knowledge regarding the disease, which can impact anyone, even without predetermined indicators.
Although the risk for cataracts increases with age, this is not the only factor.
According to Prevent Blindness of America, some of the possible risk factors are:
- Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Inflammation in the eye
- Hereditary influences
- Long term steroid use
- Eye injuries
- Other eye diseases
The National Eye Institute provided this list of the most common symptoms:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Colors seem faded
- Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
- Poor night vision
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses
Initially, many symptoms of a cataract can be taken as a sign of other eye issues. Checking with your eye care professional is the best route of diagnosis.
Although cataracts cannot be fully prevented, steps can be taken to lower your risk. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, utilizing eye-protection, and avoiding smoking can all play important parts in prevention.
Also, of course, avoiding the listed risk factors that appeared earlier in this article can be beneficial.
As far as treatment, options are limited. Early cataract symptoms can be treated with new glasses, magnifiers, and anti-glare sunglasses. However, if a cataract begins to interfere with everyday activities, both you and your eye care professional may look to surgery for answers.
If you find that you are interested in surgery, Mayo Clinic provides a detailed introduction to the subject here:
With the risk of cataracts expected to double in the coming years, the importance of disease education has never been greater. Simply being aware of the risk factors and symptoms can go a long way.
Always consult your eye care professional if you feel your vision has been negatively impacted. These consultations, whether regarding a cataract or not, could be the difference between sight and permanent issues.