Cataracts: Myths and Facts

June is Cataract Awareness Month! Every year, the organization Prevent Blindness America along with the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages Americans to be mindful of the signs and symptoms associated with cataracts.

This year, we’ve decided to outline several common myths about cataracts. 

Have you heard any of these before?

Myth: Cataracts only affect older adults

Cataracts are most common in older adults, but it’s still possible to develop a cataract when you’re young. Factors like long-term steroid use, UV exposure, eye injuries, smoking, and diabetes can increase your risk of developing cataracts at any age.

Myth: Cataracts are always visible

Sometimes cataracts are visible. During their early stages, however, your eyes may look completely normal. If you’ve been having problems with your vision lately, you will need a thorough examination to rule out cataracts.

Myth: The only symptom of a cataract is cloudy vision

Since a cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, it makes sense that your vision might appear cloudier if you have a cataract. That being said, there are a number of other symptoms associated with cataracts including decreased night vision, light sensitivity, double vision in a single eye, seeing “halos” around lights, and experiencing faded colors.

Myth: Cataracts are equally likely in men and women

Cataracts are actually more common in women than men. According to the National Eye Institute, 61 percent of Americans with cataracts are women, whereas 39 percent are men. 

Myth: Cataracts can be treated with medication

Once a person has developed a cataract, the only way to remove it is through surgery. While having surgery on your eye may sound intimidating, cataract surgery is one of the oldest surgeries ever performed. It’s also one of the safest surgeries done today!

Your vision is important to us

Intermountain Eye Centers encourages all our patients to keep an eye on their vision, report on any changes, and receive regular comprehensive eye examinations. Most forms of vision loss are preventable and can be slowed – or even eliminated – with treatment. If you suspect you’re suffering from a cataract or another vision problem, we can help.

Contact us today to learn more about our services set up a comprehensive eye examination.

How to keep your eyes safe from UV rays

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you forget to wear your sunglasses?

During the summer months, people tend to spend more time outdoors. If you leave your sunglasses at home, it might be tempting to shrug it off. You might need to squint a little, you figure. What’s the worst that could happen?

As it turns out, exposure to UV rays significantly increases the risk of cataracts and other eye conditions.

This cataract awareness month, Intermountain Eye Centers encourages you to take special care of your eyes and keep them safe from the sun.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a common eye condition in which the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision, light sensitivity, and difficulty seeing at night.

Risk factors for developing a cataract include:

  • Older age
  • Family history of cataracts
  • Previous eye injury, surgery, or radiation treatments on the upper body
  • Using certain medications, e.g., corticosteroids
  • Other health issues, e.g., diabetes
  • Exposure to UV rays, particularly without sunglasses

Although many of us think of cataracts as having obvious symptoms, sometimes they can develop slowly. For this reason, it’s important to have regular comprehensive eye examinations, particularly as you get older. Cataracts can only be treated through surgery.

How can I keep my eyes safe this summer?

This summer, take special care to avoid harming your eyes by wearing wrap-around sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays. You may also want to wear a wide-brimmed hat.

There are three different types of UV rays:

  • UVA rays can pass through the cornea, damaging the eye’s lens and retina. Overexposure to UVA radiation has been linked to the development of cataracts as well as macular degeneration.
  • UVB rays are mostly filtered by the ozone layer, but can still travel down to reach your eyes. UVB rays have been linked to snow blindness and surfer’s eye.
  • UVC rays are the most dangerous type of UV radiation, but they’re almost exclusively blocked by the ozone layer.

The strength of these UV rays varies depending on time of day, geographic location, and altitude. Be sure to check your local weather report before going outside; most reports will offer insights into current UV levels.

Worried about keeping your eyes safe this summer? Contact Intermountain Eye Centers for more information about how to protect your vision from common eye diseases.