/ by UK HealthCare
June is Cataract Awareness Month, an occasion to shed extra light on a common condition that affects about 1 in 6 Americans over the age of 40.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 30 million Americans suffer from cataracts and projects that figure will grow to 39 million by 2032.
Cataracts are highly treatable, so it is important that people learn about the condition and treatment options in order to protect their vision as they age.
Dr. Ana Bastos de Carvalho recently spoke with us about the impact of cataracts and how UK HealthCare can help patients who develop them.
Dr. Bastos is Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Kentucky, specializing in retinal diseases and cataract surgery. She is also Co-Director of the University of Kentucky Global Ophthalmology Program (UK GO).
What are cataracts and how do they most commonly negatively impact people's lives?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, which can happen with normal aging (from a build-up of protein on the lens) or can be caused by diseases, such as diabetes. Cataracts can impact people's lives by causing blurry vision and glare, and interfering with activities such as reading, writing, driving, and daily household activities.
Are certain types of people more at-risk for developing cataracts?
Cataracts are very common as people age. Over half of people 65 or older have cataracts. Other factors that increase risk for cataract are diabetes, inflammation in the eye, eye surgery, trauma to the eye and certain medications.
What are some early warning signs someone might be developing cataracts?
In the beginning, cataracts may cause fading of colors, glare with lights (especially at night, when driving), decrease in the clarity of vision, and may cause people to have to change their glasses frequently.
What are the first steps someone should take if they worry they're at-risk of developing or are developing cataracts?
If someone is worried about themselves or someone they know having cataracts, they should have their eyes checked by an eye doctor. If someone is diagnosed with cataracts it can help slow the impact on their vision if they protect their eyes from ultraviolet light and, in the case of smokers, reduce or stop smoking.
What steps will UK HealthCare providers take to treat cataract patients?
When we diagnose someone with a cataract, the first step is to define how much the cataract is impacting their lives. Initially, many cataracts can be managed with observation, updated prescription for glasses, and sunglasses. Once the cataract causes enough vison loss or glare that it becomes a problem for the patient, we can perform surgery to remove the cataract. During surgery, we will remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens implant that is personalized to each patient's eye.
What should patients know about cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries performed today, with over 95 percent of procedures being successful. Most patients describe the whole process during and after surgery as causing minimal or no pain. We perform careful evaluation before surgery to rule out other causes of reduced vision or conditions that may impact the outcome.
Surgeons at the Advanced Eye Care Dept of UK Healthcare have extensive training and experience with both routine and complex cataract cases. We perform the surgeries in surgical centers with state-of-the-art equipment and a friendly, professional health care team. Our department houses specialists in all other areas of ophthalmology as well, which is convenient if you have other eye issues that need to be managed.
Is there anything else you'd like folks to know about cataracts?
Most cataracts progress slowly and cataracts cannot spread from one eye to the other, although you can have cataracts in both eyes. Cataracts are not a cause of irreversible blindness, so if a cataract is making your vision worse, in the majority of cases cataract surgery is very safe and effective at restoring your vision. Seek the help of an eye doctor to help you decide what are the best next steps for you.
To speak with a provider or schedule an appointment with UK Advanced Eye Care, call 859-323-5867.