June is cataract awareness month. Cataracts are one of the eye conditions that many people are aware of but is followed with some misconceptions. This June let us help update you on the newest information regarding cataracts.
Cataracts occur within the intra-ocular lens, which is a transparent structure located behind the iris. The lens is responsible for focusing light to the retina so we can see clearly. Initially the lens is able to change shape to adjust focus between near and far targets. With time, just like the rest of us, our lenses flexibility decreases, this is a normal maturation change.
Some common misconceptions are as follows:
Cataracts only occur when people are older: Cataracts can occur at any age, even in newborns. Depending on the severity and the type of cataract intervention may be indicated. Dense cataracts in newborns can actually impede ocular development causing form deprivation amblyopia. Other congenital cataracts don't have any affect on vision and are only noted during a dilated eye examination. Early diagnosis is important and easily done with a residency trained pediatric eye care provider.
Eye drops can be used to treat cataracts: Currently, there is no definitive research that eye drops can be used to treat cataracts. There were a couple of studies published in the United States and in Russia but after further review the methodology was not conclusive for positive results. The only effective treatment for a cataract is cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is dangerous: Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures done in the United States and it has been found they are 95% successful. Of course with any surgical procedure there is a risk of complication. To reduce any complications following post-surgical recommendations is imperative.
Cataracts are only caused from sun exposure: While it is true cataracts are caused from sun exposure, it is not the only cause. Other causes of cataract formation are as follows:
Smoking: smoking drastically increased the likelihood of developing a cataract earlier in life. As mentioned in previous blogs, smoking is terrible for your eyes, simple as that.
Trauma: Traumatic incidents can actually cause some pretty significant lens changes that can inhibit vision. To prevent trauma to the eye it is important to wear appropriate protective eye wear especially if participating in activities that have fast moving objects (racquet sports).
Diabetes: Diabetes can have a lot of effects on ocular tissue and can cause changes to the lens, which can lead to fluctuation in vision. Maintaining blood glucose control with a primary care physician can help reduce this risk.
Steroid use: Steroids (anti-inflammatory medication) are prescribed to treat a variety of conditions. While they are very useful in disease control, a side-effect of long-term use can be cataract formation. Please note this blog is not advocating for discontinuation of steroid use.
Inflammation of the eye: Inflammation within the eye causes early cataract onset. This could be from conditions like an Iritis (see our blog on Iritis).
Infections that occur in-utero: An example would be German Measles
Genetics: As with everything pertaining to genetics, there are always markers that family members are more prone to inheriting.
While certain risk factors for developing cataracts are inevitable there are things that people can do to help slow cataract progression.
Wear sunglasses: Decreasing UV penetration into the eye can help reduce UV absorption that occurs within the lens (see our blog on health benefits of sunglasses).
Wear protective lenses: wearing appropriate protective lenses for work or sports can help prevent traumatic cataracts
Have a healthy lifestyle: Healthy decisions such as diet and exercise have a positive effect on the eye.
This June protect your eyes are learn more about cataracts from your eye-care provider. Our knowledgeable optometrists are accepting new patients.
Artisan Optics - Uptown
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Select Sat: 10-2 (Schedule)
7960 W Rifleman St #150
Boise, ID 83704
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