June is Cataract Awareness Month, an observance created by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to raise awareness of this important eye health issue. At Outlook Eyecare, we see this as an opportune time to educate you about this very common condition. Our eye doctors in Princeton treat patients from surrounding cities like Hamilton Township and other central New Jersey communities, but because it is such a widespread concern, we feel everyone can benefit from learning more about cataracts.
Cataracts occur as we age and the eye’s natural lens thickens and becomes cloudy. They are the main cause of vision loss for men and women older than 55 and, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 25 million Americans have cataracts. Here are 3 important facts about cataracts that many people might not know.
- Lifestyle’s role as risk factor: Lifestyle and behavior can influence how early or late in life you develop cataracts, and how the condition will progress. Age is the most common risk factor associated with cataracts, but recent studies indicate that other factors play a role in the timing and severity of developing cataracts. For example, diabetes, extensive exposure to the sun, smoking, and obesity can all contribute to an increased risk of cataracts. High blood pressure and certain ethnicities have also been linked to having a higher risk of having cataracts than the general population. Eye injuries, previous eye surgery, and using steroid medication over a long period can also result in cataracts.
- You can lower your risk: Cataracts cannot be prevented, but you can take steps to decrease the risk of developing cataracts. Protecting yourself from sun exposure by wearing sunglasses with lenses that block UV rays and using wide-brimmed hats can help. Several studies concluded that people who eat more foods rich in vitamin C lower their risk of developing cataracts at younger ages. Women and men who don’t smoke cigarettes are also less likely to develop cataracts until much later in life.
- Improved vision is just one benefit of surgery: During cataract surgery, your eye surgeon replaces the natural, clouded lens with an intraocular lens, an artificial lens made of plastic, silicone, or acrylic. There are a range of lenses to choose from, and each provides unique benefits. More than just improving your vision, cataract surgery has been shown to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce the risk of falling.
If you’ve noticed your vision becoming less clear, cataracts could be the cause. Cataract Awareness Month is a good time to request a consultation at one of Outlook Eyecare’s 3 locations. Or call one of the offices at (609)409-2777 (Monroe Township), (609) 419-1920 (Princeton), or (609) 587-4700 (Mercerville), to schedule an appointment.