June is Cataract Awareness Month!
Half of all Americans will develop cataracts by age 80. More than 22 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts, as noted in Prevent Blindness America's 2008 Vision Problems in the U.S. report. By 2020, 30.1 million Americans in that age group will have cataracts.
Cataract, a clouding of the eye’s lens, is the leading cause of blindness in the world. It is the leading cause of low vision among Americans, contributing to half of all cases. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States (American Academy of Ophthalmology, National Eye Institute).
Cataract is probably caused by multiple factors acting together – even genetics, but there are many risk factors that can be controlled or eliminated through prevention and lifestyle changes. The following are common risk factors for cataract:
- Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Long-time steroid use
- Eye injuries
Think you might be at risk for cataract? Look for changes in your vision, or signs like these:
- 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 your eye is normally black).
You might be more at risk than you think. To find out more, read through our guide of Facts and Myths About Cataract.
More than one million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the U.S. Cataract surgeries are completed without complication in 95% of cases. Learn more from our Guide to Cataract Surgery.