Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and more than 24 million Americans age 40 and older have a cataract. That’s why Prevent Blindness America recognizes June as Cataract Awareness Month.
‘Cataract’ refers to the eye’s lens becoming clouded as part of the aging process. Normally, light passes through the lens, which focuses images into clear, sharp pictures. But as we age, our lenses become thicker and less flexible, and tissues within them start to break down and clump together. People with cataracts may experience blurred vision while reading or driving (especially at night), light sensitivity, difficulty with color perception, and halos or glares around headlights or streetlights.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the development of cataracts:
- 95% of cataracts are age-related, occurring after the age of 40
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight
- Wearing sunglasses with UV protection helps prevent the breakdown of lens tissue that causes cataracts
- Tobacco use
- Tobacco smoke contributes to the development of cataracts in two ways: free radicals cause damage to the lens of the eyes and tobacco smoke greatly reduces the amount of antioxidants found in the body
- People who smoke 20 cigarettes per day are twice as likely to develop cataracts in comparison to nonsmokers
- Alcohol use
- A recent study found that people who consumed over two alcoholic drinks per day had an increased likelihood of developing cataracts
- Alcohol consumption in moderation is always best
- Family history
- Some types of medications
How Are Cataracts Treated?
While it’s possible to reduce your risk of developing cataracts, they aren’t one hundred percent preventable. That’s why cataract surgery is the one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the United States.
The procedure is done on an outpatient basis. When the cataract is removed, it will be replaced with an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens implant (IOL). Your doctor will examine your eyes and work with you to determine the best IOL option for you.
Illinois Eye Center uses the latest technology to assess your eyes in order to provide the most precise data possible and to help determine the best IOL for your needs, lifestyle goals, budget and personality.
There are several types of IOLs available:
- Monofocal Lenses help patients see well at long distances, but some patients may require glasses for up-close tasks such as reading.
- Toric Lenses are the perfect option for patients with astigmatism, because they clear up the distortion caused by astigmatism and the blurriness caused by cataracts at the same time.
- Advanced Technology IOLs, or Multifocal IOLs are designed to provide clear vision for a full range of distances with no glasses required.
Learn more about the different IOLS available by downloading our free guide. You can also call us at (309) 243-2400 to request your cataract consultation today.