June is Cataract Awareness Month

June 2023

There are so many fascinating facts about the eyes. Our eyes are our second most complex organ, after the brain. Did you know 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, keeping them happy is important. As we age, various conditions can affect the eyes, including cataracts. 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. The protein remains clear for most of our lives and lets light pass through. However, some proteins can clump together as we age, eventually forming 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.

Regular eye exams are always important, including for detection of cataracts. People can start having cataracts in their 40s and 50s, but age 60 and up is when cataracts usually start affecting vision. 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, green leafy vegetables and other foods with antioxidants.

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