PIKEVILLE - June is National Cataract Awareness Month, a time when the public is urged to pay attention to the health of their eyes.
Currently, more than 24 million Americans age 40 or older have cataracts, making it the leading cause of blindness.
According to the American Optometric Association, a cataract is â€œa cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye.â€ The cloudiness is caused by the buildup of proteins in the eye’s lens.
Looking through an eye with cataracts is compared to seeing through a frosty or fogged up window.
This cloudy vision can decrease one’s ability to read, drive a car or see facial expressions.
Cataracts usually develop slowly over time. Symptoms include:
â€¢Cloudy, blurred or dim vision
â€¢Difficulty with night vision
â€¢Seeing â€œhalosâ€ around lights
â€¢Progressive nearsightedness, also called â€œsecond sightâ€ in older people, causing them to no longer need reading glasses
â€¢Frequent or sudden changes in eyeglasses or contact lens prescription
â€¢Fading or yellowing of colors
â€¢Double vision in a single eye
â€¢At times, distinguished as a yellowish or milky spot on the eye’s pupil
â€œAs the most common cause of blindness worldwide, cataracts are generally caused by the natural aging process, and usually start to affect our vision at, or around age 60,â€ said Pikeville Medical Center Ophthalmologist Dr. Keith Ison. â€œYou may notice more trouble reading fine print, glares and halos while driving (especially at night), or experience a film over the eyes that just won't go away. If you have any of these symptoms, then cataracts could be the cause for your decline in vision.â€
People have a higher risk of developing cataracts if they are 55 years or older, have been diagnosed with diabetes, have had an eye injury or surgery or have a family history of cataracts
To date, there is no proven prevention for cataracts, but some lifestyle habits can decrease the risk, such as:
â€¢Getting regular eye exams with dilation
â€¢Limiting alcohol intake
â€¢Limiting exposure to sunlight and always wear a hat or sunglasses while in the sun
â€¢Avoiding tanning beds/booths
â€¢Avoiding steroid medication, when possible
â€¢Keeping blood pressure and blood sugar levels normal
â€¢Maintaining a healthy weight
â€¢Sticking to a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits and veggies
â€œThe good news is that cataracts can be cured by a simple outpatient procedure that takes about 10-15 minutes to perform without any pain or stitches,â€ Dr. Ison said. â€œPikeville Medical Center has the most advanced technology which allows me to perform cataract surgery safely, right here at home, so my patients can get back to enjoying life to its fullest.â€
Dr. Ison’s office is located in Suite 203 in the Grace Call Building at 1098 South Mayo Trail, Pikeville. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 606-218-6390.
Sources: http://aoa.org; http://mayoclinic.com; http://webmd.com; http://preventblindness.org