June is Cataract Awareness Month
Our eyes are our second most complex organ, after the brain. There are so many fascinating facts about the eyes. Did you know that a fingerprint has 40 unique characteristics, but the iris has 256? That’s one reason retina scans are increasing in use for security. Another fun fact: About 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes.
With all that eyes do for us, it’s important to keep them happy. As we age, a variety of conditions can affect the eyes, including cataract. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred.
Our eyes are made up of mostly water and protein. For most of our lives, the protein remains clear and lets light pass through. But as we age, some of the protein can clump together and eventually form a cataract. The larger the cataract grows, the harder it can be to see. That growth can take a while, so you might not realize you have a cataract in the early stages. Well-developed cataracts can have a yellowish tint.
People can start having cataracts in their 40s and 50s, but age 60 and up is when cataracts usually start affecting vision. Regular eye exams are always important, including for detection of cataracts. After age 60, be sure to have a comprehensive dilated-eye exam at least once every two years.
According to the National Eye Institute, cataract surgery is needed only once the cataract starts interfering with daily activities, such as driving, reading or watching TV. Delaying surgery will not affect your eye health. However, sometimes removal is necessary, such as when the cataract interferes with treating an illness like age-related macular degeneration.
Talk with your eye care professional about the right choice for you. Meanwhile, here are some measures that could reduce your chance of cataract development:
- Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight outdoors.
- Make sure your diet includes plenty of fruit and green leafy vegetables, and other foods with antioxidants.
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