June is Cataract Awareness Month
According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness across the globe. It has been estimated that more than 2.5 million Canadians are afflicted with cataracts, making it one of the most common vision-threatening eye conditions in the country. Those statistics may sound scary, but the good news is that cataracts are treatable. In fact, some individuals may even acquire better vision after treatment for cataracts than they had before they developed the condition. June, 2021 is Cataract Awareness Month in Canada, and our eye doctors here at Gimbel Eye Centre would like to take this opportunity to give you a few quick bits of information about what you can do to reduce the possibility that cataracts will significantly impair your sight.
One of the most important things to know about cataracts is that they are often simply a part of the natural aging process, meaning that most people will likely develop a cataract at some point in their lives. A cataract is characterized by a cloudiness affecting the eye’s natural lens that can progressively get worse. Without treatment, cataracts can make it increasingly difficult to see clearly, and can ultimately produce total blindness.
Cataract Signs and Symptoms
While this is not an all-inclusive list, the following signs and symptoms are some of the most commonly experienced by individuals who develop cataracts:
- Vision that is blurry or “cloudy”
- A glare or “halo” effect occurring around certain objects
- Colors that appear faded or not as vibrant as they should
- Reduced ability to see clearly at night
- The need to change corrective eyewear prescriptions more frequently
Risk Factors for Cataracts
Advanced age is a prominent risk factor for cataracts, but there are others that can increase the chances of developing the condition. They include obesity, excessive exposure to the sun, medical conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and/or diabetes, and an eye injury or previous eye surgery. Smoking and too much consumption of alcohol can also increase the risk of developing cataracts.
Cataracts can be treated in a number of ways, depending on the severity of the condition at the time of diagnosis. For some patients who are in the early stages of cataract development and are not experiencing major symptoms, a simple change in their eyewear prescription may be all that’s necessary at that time to provide the best vision possible. For those who are suffering from more severe degrees of vision impairment, cataract surgery may be recommended. This routine procedure can remove the cataract and replace the eye’s natural lens with a lens implant designed to enhance vision. For many patients, the lens implant is so effective that they are able to reduce their reliance on corrective eyewear after surgery. Our lens replacement options here at Gimbel Eye Centre offer many patients the ability to improve vision at a range of distances, potentially providing them with even better vision than they had before the cataracts developed.
When it comes to cataract treatment, it is also important to note that many of these procedures are often covered, at least partially, under provincial health plans.
Remember, a cataract is a serious eye condition, but also a treatable one. The best thing you can do to prevent cataracts from stealing your sight is to obtain regular eye exams, know the signs and symptoms to watch out for, and see an eye doctor as soon as you notice any changes in your vision. If you would like additional information on cataracts, please contact Gimbel Eye Centre today.