The month of June has been designated as Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts are the most common cause of preventable blindness worldwide. In the United States alone, over 25 million people suffer with poor vision due to cataracts and about 50% of people will have or have had surgery for cataracts.
So, what is a cataract? As we mature, the normally clear lens inside the eye becomes cloudy. Similar to the lens in a camera, if the lens is cloudy, then you will not see a clear picture. The cloudy lens blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye.
The most common cause of cataracts is age. As we mature, the lens naturally develops cloudiness. Other factors that can contribute to the formation of cataracts include certain medications (especially steroids), smoking, prolonged exposure to UV rays in tanning beds or from the sun, diabetes and certain metabolic disorders, as well as infections, trauma, and other causes.
Cataract surgery should be considered when symptoms interfere with an individual’s daily lifestyle. Symptoms include:
- Difficulty seeing street signs.
- Night glare such as starbursts or halos around lights.
- Vision that appears dull and requires stronger light to read.
- Frequent prescription changes not related to metabolic disorders like diabetes.
Cataract surgery is a safe outpatient procedure that is quick and virtually painless. Revolutions in technology have enabled patients to enjoy visual quality never imaginable before through advanced intraocular lenses which are placed inside the eye at the time of surgery. This enhancement can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses after surgery.
It is important to note that a cataract evaluation is covered by Medicare and most insurances. You do not need “vision” insurance since medical insurance covers this condition. For those with no insurance, Frantz EyeCare participates with Mission Cataract, USA, to provide free cataract surgery for people with no insurance and no other means to pay.
If you suspect that you have cataracts, there is no need to suffer with poor vision and the reduced quality of life it causes. Seek out an expert eye care provider to enjoy the life you envision!
Jonathan M. Frantz, MD, FACS
Chief Surgeon and Medical Director – Frantz EyeCare