Educating the public about cataract risk factors, detection, and treatment options has been the goal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) EyeSmart program during August, Cataract Awareness Month.
San Francisco-Educating the public about cataract risk factors, detection, and treatment options has been the goal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) EyeSmart program during August, Cataract Awareness Month.
The incidence of cataracts in the United States has increased 19% since 2000, affecting almost 25 million Americans aged at least 40 years, according to the AAO. In fact, more than half of all Americans will develop cataracts by age 80, according to Prevent Blindness America’s (PBA’s) “Vision Problems in the U.S.” report.
The AAO provides the following tips to share with patients:
All adults should get a baseline eye exam by age 40, when early signs of eye disease and vision changes may start to occur, and follow-up exams as needed.
Anyone aged at least 65 years should visit an ophthalmologist regularly to help in the early detection of eye diseases and conditions such as cataract and to monitor any vision loss. Senior citizens may qualify for an eye exam and up to 1 year of care at no out-of-pocket cost through EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of American Academy of Ophthalmology. Patients can determine whether they qualify at www.eyecareamerica.org.
Diabetes, smoking, extensive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, serious eye injuries, steroid use, and a family history of cataract can increase the risk of developing a cataract. Sunglasses and hats can protect eyes from UV damage. Blood glucose levels can be controlled through diet, exercise, and, if needed, medications. Patients should not smoke.
Patients planning to undergo cataract surgery should share with their ophthalmologists their complete medical and eye health histories, including lists of medications they have taken.
For more information on cataract symptoms, risk factors, surgery, and other eye health information, patients can visit www.geteyesmart.org.
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