Every year, CareOne observes National Cataract Awareness Month. It’s held every June to help raise awareness and support of the disease. Cataracts are a common and serious affliction which affect many people worldwide, and yet the condition receives relatively little attention. It is a condition where the lens of the eye becomes opaque, which results in blurred vision.
Early detection can be a tremendous help in the fight against cataracts, yet many people are unaware of the symptoms. Cataract Awareness Month aims to educate the public about the warning signs, risks, and treatment options associated with cataracts.
At CareOne, our goal is always to provide compassionate healthcare aimed at improved quality of life for our patients. Eye health is a crucial part of everyone’s overall well-being. Particularly as we age, the importance of protecting our eyes increases significantly. As an organization offering specialized assisted living and senior care, cataract treatment and awareness is a great help for many of the people under our care. That is why Cataract Awareness Month is such an important time on our calendar. In order to offer information to help individuals learn more about cataracts and how to treat them, we’ve written this article below.
The Leading Cause of Vision Loss
Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in America. It is estimated that at least 24 million American adults are currently suffering from cataracts. Left untreated, cataracts can result in blindness. However, there are more symptoms to look out for when dealing with cataracts.
These symptoms include: blurred vision, diminished depth perception, “milky white” pupil discoloration, or heightened sensitivity to light.
While cataracts mostly affect adults and are more prevalent with age, anyone can suffer from cataracts. However, most people do not begin to develop cataract symptoms until their 40s. The chances of developing a cataract increase even more at later ages. In fact, roughly 70% of people age 75 or over have had cataracts or cataract surgery in their life.
What Are Cataracts and their Causes?
A cataract is a natural clouding of the lens inside the eye which occurs over time. A cataract prevents light from penetrating the lens and reaching the retina, thus reducing visual clarity.
Cataracts are often simply a part of the aging process. Certain factors, however, can increase an individual’s risk of developing cataracts. These include smoking, high blood pressure, eye infection, and excessive light exposure.
In some rare cases, cataracts can be hereditary, meaning it is possible for children to be born with cataracts. This, however, is extremely uncommon. Cataracts most often occur naturally as we age, predominantly affecting older adults. This means that seniors, more than any other demographic, should be aware of cataract symptoms. At CareOne’s assisted living communities, our comprehensive healthcare ensures that all residents have access to safe, reliable cataract treatment should it be needed. We also educate our patients on this disease so they can be aware of the symptoms.
How Are Cataracts Treated?
Cataracts can be fully cured by cataract surgery. This is currently the only known remedy for cataracts but, fortunately, the procedure is relatively simple and painless. In fact, cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure performed in the U.S.
During cataract surgery, an opthamologist removes the clouded natural lens (the cataract) from the patient’s eye. A clear artificial lens is then implanted in place of the natural lens. Some prerequisite medical work is required to determine the shape and size of the cataract, and to prepare the eye for the procedure. But the procedure itself typically only takes about 30 minutes.
However, patients undergoing cataract surgery should expect a brief recovery period. Common side effects after surgery include blurred vision or watery, sensitive eyes. These symptoms should subside quickly and patients are typically released less than an hour after the procedure is completed. The surgically repaired eye should be fully healed, and stronger than before, within a couple days.
Why Cataract Awareness Month Is Important
Although there is a known and available treatment for cataracts, they remain a serious problem for millions of people worldwide. One of the goals of Cataract Awareness Month, and CareOne is to educate the public about the availability of cataract treatment options.
Cataract Awareness Month also aims to encourage adults, particularly seniors, to receive regular eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam tests overall eye health, not just cataracts. These exams are the best way to detect and treat all kinds of serious eye conditions.
Early cataract detection can allow individuals to receive treatment sooner. This means less time spent dealing with seriously impaired vision. This, in turn, reduces the potential for other health risks and improves quality of life significantly.
Every adult is encouraged to schedule regular eye exams. However, the frequency of routine eye exams should increase with age. Adults over 55 should schedule an eye test every 1 to 2 years. Younger adults should only need eye exams every 2-5 years, depending on age and health. In addition to cataracts, eye exams can also help detect conditions like glaucoma, retina damage, or macular degeneration.
The CareOne Difference
The CareOne healthcare community is founded on principles of compassion and excellence. At CareOne, it is not enough to simply manage conditions. We strive to provide the best care and quality of life for every patient and resident in our care. From educating patients and residents about the warning signs of cataracts, to our ophthalmology services, CareOne can cover eye health in a number of ways.
Contact us or read more about our medical specializations to learn more about why vision health is so important to us.