Exams mark Cataract Awareness Month

August 3, 2011

In honor of Cataract Awareness Month in August, EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), is providing eye exams at no out-of-pocket cost to some people aged 65 or more years.

San Francisco-In honor of Cataract Awareness Month in August, EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), is providing eye exams at no out-of-pocket cost to some people aged 65 or more years.

About 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists across the United States and Puerto Rico are providing the exams. Those interested in the program can visit www.eyecareamerica.org  to determine whether they are eligible for the free care.

Through patient education, ophthalmologists can help dispel five common myths that people have about cataracts, according to the AAO:

Myth 1: Eye drops can prevent or dissolve cataracts.

Myth 2: Close-up tasks like reading or sewing make cataracts worse.

Myth 3: Cataracts are reversible.

Myth 4: Cataract surgery is dangerous, and recovery takes months.

Myth 5: Cataracts “grow back.”

Also during August, the AAO is encouraging Americans to know their risks for the disease. Ophthalmologists can share these tips with their patients to help them maintain healthy vision and make the right choices should they develop a cataract:

Get a baseline exam if you’re aged more than 40 years.

Know your risk factors, such as a family history of cataract, having diabetes, being a smoker, extensive exposure to sunlight, serious eye injury or inflammation, and prolonged use of steroids, especially combined use of oral and inhaled steroids.

Reduce your risks. Use ultraviolet radiation-rated sunglasses when outdoors, and add a wide-brimmed hat when spending long hours in the midday sun. Quit smoking or never start. If you have diabetes, carefully control your glucose through diet, exercise, and medications if needed.

Be informed about when to consider surgery.

Provide your complete medical and eye health history to your ophthalmologist when preparing for surgery.

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