According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), more than half of all Americans aged 80 and up have cataracts or have had cataract surgery. Cataract is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and the leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cataract Awareness Month has been declared by Prevent Blindness during the month of June to educate the public on risk factors, symptoms, types of cataract, and cataract surgery.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that prevents or alters the passage of light into the eye. The lens of the eye is normally transparent and is located behind the pupil and colored iris. The lens aids in the focus of images onto the retina, which transmits them to the brain.
What Causes Cataracts
Cataracts can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Excessive heat or prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Diabetes is one of these diseases.
- Ocular inflammation
- Influences inherited
- Prenatal events, such as German measles in the mother
- Steroid use on a long-term basis
- Injuries to the eyes
- Diseases of the eyes
Cataract can occur in children, which is known as “pediatric cataract.” To raise awareness and education about children’s vision and eye health issues, Prevent Blindness has designated 2022 as the Year of Children’s Vision. Cataracts affect approximately three out of every 10,000 children, according to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS). Pediatric cataracts are common as a result of abnormal lens development during pregnancy. Cataracts can be caused by genetic or structural problems in the eye, they can run in families, they can be caused by infections, or they can occur spontaneously with no known cause. Lens malformations that occur alongside medical problems are frequently the result of a genetic or metabolic issue. These cataracts can be present at birth or develop later in life.
An eye doctor may recommend cataract surgery for some adults or children who have cataracts. According to the NEI, cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed in the United States. And, after cataract surgery, 9 out of 10 people can see better, with the majority of people completely healed 8 weeks later.
Mission Cataract USA, coordinated by the Volunteer Eye Surgeon’s Association, provides free cataract surgery to people of all ages who do not have Medicare, Medicaid, third-party insurance, or any other means of paying for needed cataract surgery. The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America offers a “Seniors Program” that connects eligible seniors 65 and older with local volunteer ophthalmologists who provide a medical eye exam often at no out-of-pocket cost, as well as up to one year of follow-up care for any condition diagnosed during the initial exam, for the physician services.
“Cataract is very common and affects more people than any other eye disease,” said Prevent Blindness president and CEO Jeff Todd. “The good news is that cataract treatment can restore vision loss.” We encourage everyone to learn about cataracts and the steps that can be taken to improve their vision.”
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